Two Bristol taxi drivers have been prosecuted for failing to allow a blind Brislington man and his guide dog into their cars.
Bristol City Council’s licensing enforcement team brought the prosecutions against two private hire drivers for refusing to convey an assistance dog, contrary to the Equalities Act 2010.
Andrew Goddard, of Badgers Walk, had booked a car to take him and his guide dog, Sammy, to a social event at the Louisiana pub. Two drivers refused before he was eventually taken to the venue by a third driver.
As a consequence, Mr Goddard arrived very late and both he and Sammy got soaking wet.
Mr Goddard, who is registered blind, hopes that by bringing the case to court, it will prevent other people from having to go through the same ordeal.
He said: “I got Sammy in May last year and he has given me the confidence to go out to social events on my own. I don’t have any problem with my normal taxi firm, who are always happy to take my dog, and if it hadn’t have been raining, I would have probably got the bus.
“I am pleased that both drivers were prosecuted and I hope that by highlighting this issue, other people will not have to suffer.”
The first driver, Khader Ahmed Sharif Abdi, pleaded guilty to the offence at Bristol Magistrates’ Court and was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs.
The second driver, Sheikh Omar Mohamed, was found guilty by magistrates and fined almost £350.
Cllr Gus Hoyt, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, said: “Taxis and private hire vehicles form an integral part of the transport system in Bristol and are often relied upon by people suffering from visual impairment.
“It is simply not acceptable that drivers don’t comply with their legal obligations by refusing to carry assistance dogs. We are delighted that we have brought these successful convictions and hope it sends out a strong message that this is simply not acceptable.”
Alun Gwernan-Jones, regional manager for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, welcomed the tough stance from the licensing department: “Guide dog owners depend on their dogs for independence, and they, and any other assistance dog users, need to have confidence that no Bristol taxis will refuse them access.”