By Nick Gill
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
A BLIND man has had a taxi driver refuse to take his guide dog for the second time this year.
Sean Dilley booked a cab through Stevenage Taxis on Monday evening to take him from Stevenage town centre to Great Ashby Veterinary Hospital but said when the driver arrived he would not take his assistance dog Chipp.
The 29-year-old Stevenage resident - who was born partially sighted and has been blind for 15 years - told the Comet that, after pointing out that it was against the law, the driver said he’d take Chipp but only if the dog was locked in the boot.
It is the second incident in five months after a driver from Gary’s Taxis in Letchworth GC refused to take Mr Dilley’s guide dog in January. Abdul Hasan was subsequently cautioned after a district council disciplinary hearing in March.
Speaking about the situation on Monday night, Mr Dilley, who works as a freelance political broadcaster, said: “We called the office on speaker phone and Stevenage Taxis told him he had to take the guide dog but the driver became rather loud and threatening. He objected to having a ‘dirty dog’ in his car.
“The office sent another car and apologised, telling me they would call the driver in. Before parting, the driver demanded money from me to clean hair from his car where we had initially sat in it.
“This is the latest disgusting and unacceptable refusal to carry my guide dog. They are vital mobility aides for the blind and the law recognises this and outlaws their refusal. Unfortunately the message isn’t getting through to taxi drivers, some of whom think the law doesn’t apply to them. I call on Stevenage Borough Council to prosecute and I assure the driver that if they don’t, I will take out a private prosecution.”
Tina Turnbull, manager at Stevenage Taxis, said: “We’re not making any comment because Mr Dilley has decided he’s going to prosecute as he said in his own words. It’s suffice to say Mr Dilley has been a long-standing account customer of ours.”
A spokesman from Stevenage Borough Council said: “Stevenage Borough Council has received a complaint of a refused taxi fare from Mr Dilley and we will undertake a full investigation.
“Under the terms of their licence, taxi drivers are obliged to carry assistance dogs unless they have been granted an exemption from doing so by the council. There are currently six licensed drivers out of 298 who have exemptions. These have been given on medical grounds only. Drivers with an exemption carry a certificate to indicate this.”