Severely disabled wheelchair users who rely on specially
converted cars face their vital lifeline being jeopardised by new EU
The new Framework Directive is aimed at improving safety within the
automotive manufacturing industry but it also encompasses the niche
The Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Converters' Association was furious
when they were only consulted at a late stage by the Department for
Transport during their negotiations with the EU.
At present each firm is allowed to modify 500 vehicles of each type
annually but this is to be slashed to just 75 per type.
Framework Directive 70/156/EEC is due for a second reading later this
year and North West Euro MP, John Whittaker, is spearheading a lobbying
campaign to keep the existing quotas.
" This is another example of unintended consequences resulting
from ill-thought out European legislation," said Dr Whittaker,
the UK Independence Party's economic affairs spokesman.
_ Even if these specialist converted
vehicles remain available, the new rules are bound to raise their
_ It will also put some firms out
business. The small businesses that the EU says it wants to encourage
are the ones that always suffer
most from daft EU rules,"
added Dr Whittaker.
Currently around 10,000 new vehicles are converted each year in the
UK to enable severely disabled people to enter in their wheelchair
and stay seated during the journey, usually as passengers, explained
Linda Ling, WAVCA chair.
" We need limits far in excess of 75 for each product line
to make it viable. The loss of this industry will mean not only the
of our businesses and more than 1,000 jobs, it will also mean that
those very severely disabled wheelchair users will lose products which
are vital to their lives," she said.
Ms Ling has been told by the European Commission that no changes are
possible prior to legislation and she believes that it will then be
" I am delighted that Dr Whittaker has offered to help us
fight this. There are 25 converters of wheelchair accessible vehicles
this country and they will not all survive if this goes through."
Philip Beacham, sales director for Versa based at Widnes Car Centre,
" We just stumbled across details of this proposal and it
was a complete bombshell.
is nothing wrong with the situation as it is at the moment and
I cannot understand why they are going to do it when it won't make