Taxi drivers who refuse to take blind passengers with guide dogs will have their licences re-voked under new council rules.
Wolverhampton Council is taking action after receiving a growing number of reports of drivers refusing to pick up blind passengers with guide dogs.
The new policy comes after the council revealed it had revoked the licence of a driver at Wednesfield Radio Cars who pleaded guilty to refusing to allow a blind passenger and her dog.
Samim Yakubi, aged 40, from Wolverhampton, was ordered to pay £510 by Wolverhampton Magistrates in March after he was found to have discriminated against Rita Nicholls, 71, contrary to the Equality Act.
Yakubi refused to pick up the blind pensioner up on October 4 last year because he was worried her dog would urinate and leave hair in his car. The council has since stripped him of his licence and has decided to clarify its guidelines as a warning to all drivers of refusing to accept customers with guide dogs.
Yakubi admitted that he had no defence and that he was in breach of both the legislation and his licence conditions.
All Wolverhampton council-licensed PH drivers undergo disability awareness training to ensure they are aware of the law and their responsibilities as part of the process of getting a licence.
Council spokesman Tim Clarke told the Express and Star: “Yakubi fell well below the standards we expect of our licensed drivers.
“It was discrimination plain and simple and there can be no excuse. Following our successful prosecution, we have now revoked his licence. This sends out a clear signal that we won’t tolerate discrimination.”
In an additional measure, councillors were set to approve the amendment of the council guidelines. The report recommends councillors agree to ‘the current guidelines being amended with immediate effect to clarify the refusal to carry an assistance dog shall normally result in revocation’.
It states that ‘when it is in the interest of public safety the licence of those refusing to carry an assistance dog should be revoked with immediate effect’.
Mmmm....Now we’re getting someplace. To our knowledge, Wolverhampton is the first council that has committed to revoking the licence of drivers who refuse to carry assistance dogs. The next one we heard about was Derby City Council. That - rather than paltry fines - will make an impact. - Ed.