Mothers with pushchairs must give up seats for wheelchair users after landmark court ruling

Many mothers with young children have struggled to use public transport with pushchairs, particularly if they have to fold down their buggy or pram while holding onto their sleeping baby. However, they will now be told that they must give way to wheelchair users, following a new landmark court ruling.

The ruling from Britain’s Supreme Court means that wheelchair users will now have priority over mums with pushchairs on buses. Drivers will now have to insist that non-wheelchair users leave priority spaces if someone who is disabled wants to board.

Before the court case, the priority area was seen as for use by the disabled, the elderly and parents with children. However, wheelchair user Doug Paulley went to court when he tried to get on a FirstGroup bus, with signs asking passengers to give up the priority space if a wheelchair user needed it.

Stranded at the bus stop

Mr Paulley, from West Yorkshire, was unable to board, however, because a mother with a sleeping baby refused to move her pushchair when the bus driver asked her to. Following the verdict, he was greeted outside court by others with disabilities, who cheered as he came out.

He said that it had been a long fight but that the judgement now marked what he described as a “significant cultural change”. His case was first heard at Leeds Crown Court, which agreed with Mr Paulley that the bus firm should have enforced his right to use the space.

However, that judgement was overturned at the Court of Appeal, which decided that it did not strike the right balance between looking after the needed of those who used wheelchairs and other vulnerable passengers. It also said bus drivers could face confrontation, and bus passengers could suffer delays. Now, the Supreme Court has issued a ruling giving wheelchair users priority.

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