DISABLED people are being denied access to Oxford's new £440m Westgate shopping centre because of negligence in providing useable taxi ranks, it has been claimed.

Colin Ridler, 65, who uses a mobility scooter to get around, blamed poor planning for the oversight, which involves a lengthy journey from taxi drop-off points to the shops.

The father-of-one, who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and lives in a residential home in Iffley, said: "It is negligent and not good enough when you are spending £440m on a massive centre.

"One of the first thoughts should be to think about customers service.

"It is negligence in terms of actually thinking about their customers and disabled people."

He added: "It's poor planning and poor customer service."

A taxi rank is planned for Old Greyfriars Street but it is not expected to be ready for use until later this month.

Mr Ridler, a commissioning editor for book publishers Thames & Hudson, said it would be the wrong place to create a taxi rank and says black cab drivers should have been able to form a rank in Norfolk Street, which would provide the best access for those using wheelchairs.

Taxi drivers have been banned from using the Norfolk Street-Castle Street link route.

Mr Ridler said on a number of occasions when he has had to travel from the Westgate to the rank at Gloucester Green he has almost run out of power along the way.

He said: "When I go shopping in the Westgate I have to get dropped off by a cab in St Aldate's because cabs are not supposed to stop in Norfolk Street. Then when I leave, I have to go all the way to Gloucester Green because that it the nearest cab rank – it drains the battery on my mobility scooter.

"Norfolk Street has been reserved as a route for buses but there would be plenty of space for a taxi rank; that would be the ideal location."

The editor, whose father was Vivian Ridler CBE, printer to the University of Oxford at Oxford University Press, added: "Having a rank in Old Greyfriars Street will be better than nothing but I can't understand why it has taken so long to provide it. The centre opened in October."

Richard Wilson, of Stanley Road, East Oxford, agreed there was a problem. He said: "I am disabled, too, and have similar problems.

"I have the same difficulty in understanding how those who planned the centre could neglect to provide for such elementary needs."

Oxford Central Library came under fire earlier this year when it reopened in the Westgate after a wheelchair-user found she was unable to enter the lift to the library.

Suzi Horsley has since started the #askaboutaccess campaign to call for buildings across the city to do more to improve access.

Oxfordshire County Council and the Westgate developers have promised to install bigger lifts within six to nine months.

A spokeswoman for Westgate Oxford Alliance said: "The taxi rank is in place physically and will operate once the turning circle at the northern end of Old Greyfriars Street is complete. This is anticipated for mid-February."

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: "The taxi rank for Westgate will be in Old Greyfriars Street.

"It was meant to be available from the day of opening, but isn’t available yet because the Westgate Alliance is behind on its construction programme.

"However, taxis and private hire vehicles can pick up and set down in the underground car park in the meantime."

Andrew Hearne, centre operations manager for Westgate Oxford, said: "We worked with an accessibility consultant through the design process of Westgate Oxford to ensure the centre was fully accessible to all from day one.

"Within the centre’s public areas there are two lifts providing access to all floors, and disabled toilets located in Westgate Social on the lower ground floor in addition to a ‘Changing Places’ toilet facility on the roof terrace.”

The centre has a range of accessibility services including wheelchair-friendly access to the centre, accessible parking in the car park and wheelchair space in the lifts.

There is also a dedicated accessible toilets facility on the roof terrace, as well as disabled loos on the lower ground floor.

There are also a range of free of charge Shopmobility services including mobility scooters, wheelchairs and motorised scooters.

The City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association (COLTA), which represents the drivers of the city's 107 black cabs, has lobbied the county council to allow drivers to use Norfolk Street and Castle Street around the Westgate Centre.

The ban was approved as part of the planning permission, given by Oxford City Council in 2014. Buses are given priority.