November 26, 2019
A taxi driver in Chorley who refused to pick up a passenger that travels with an assistance dog has now had his taxi licence revoked.
The licensing department for Chorley council was not willing to accept that the cabbie asked the passenger to sit in the rear seats of the vehicle for comfort, which then, in turn, prompted her to decline the journey with him. The panel was told that when the taxi arrived the dog had just finished relieving itself and the owner was cleaning up after her pet which then led them to believe it was more likely the driver to ask her to sit in the back of the cab due to his concerns about the cleanliness of the animal, causing their decision to rescind the licence.
The passenger, who has not been named, had been awaiting a pick-up at Chorley Hospital when this incident occurred earlier this year. The driver, who has also remained anonymous, was heard on call recordings speaking with his controller, who informed him he should not leave the traveller as this would break licencing laws. Despite this warning, the driver then left the area without the passenger and did not communicate with her that another cabbie from the company was being discharged in his replacement.
The panel, who decided in a private meeting to revoke the licence of the driver in question, heard furthermore that he was experienced in his profession with a good knowledge of the legal obligations he was expected to adhere to. When asked about his thought process in abandoning the lady in question without any information, he simply replied that he was not able to remain idle in the area he had stopped in during the exchange.
Unfortunately, although we have the Equality Act 2010 in place in the UK making it illegal to refuse Assistance Dogs or their owners, it has been reported that this kind of event is not unusual by the chief executive of Assistance Dogs UK, Peter Gorbing.
Room for Change
A similar case was reignited last month, whereby a taxi driver that had refused a blind passenger and his guide dog’s attempt to appeal had failed. Nottingham council initially rescinded Anil Mathews’ right to work within the profession citing discrimination under the Act when he refused to pick up the disabled traveller and his companion. Mathews claimed he had not been informed his fare would include a Guide Dog, but this explanation was not accepted by the council committee when the licence was initially removed nor during his appeal.
Gorbing stated that “Most assistance dog owners will have experienced something similar and they are often just left hanging without the ability to arrange for another taxi themselves.”
“It’s very distressing for people and they can be left with a huge sense of anguish about going out after something like this happens to them” he concluded.
We hope that with continued awareness we can improve this situation and ensure that vulnerable travellers will be able to travel in taxis with their assistance dogs confidently and with ease in the future.