Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham tested his taxi hailing skills this week at Labour Party Conference in a football-themed game with Guide Dogs. While trying to get a taxi to take guide dog owner Jacqueline to her local football match, the MP for Stockton North heard about the real problems assistance dog owners face when being illegally refused by taxis and minicabs.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a taxi or minicab driver to refuse to take an assistance dog or to charge extra for carrying it. However, Guide Dogs research found that 42% of assistance dog owners have been turned away by a taxi or minicab in a one-year period because of their dog. The research also uncovered that 38% of assistance dog owners have been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.
Alex is supporting Guide Dogs’ call for all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training so they understand the rights and needs of disabled passengers and feel confident to offer assistance. The campaign is supported by more than 30 organisations, including trade bodies, local government representatives and disability groups.
Alex Cunningham MP said:
“Guide Dogs are focusing on a crucial issue, which I am delighted to support. It is shocking that nearly half of assistance dog owners have been turned away by a taxi or minicab because they have a dog with them – a dog that they need to get by.
“It is difficult and challenging enough to depend on an assistance dog, without discrimination and troubling treatment from a service that you may depend on. I will keep supporting this issue and many more such as the end to pavement parking to ensure that those in need of an assistance dog can have their independence.”
James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, commented:
“Imagine you were turned away by a taxi driver for no reason. This happens to people living with sight loss with shocking regularity just because they are travelling with their guide dog. It’s not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted – going to a café, meeting friends, going to the doctor’s or to their local football match.
“We are urging the Government to require disability equality training for all drivers to help reduce the number of access refusals.”
For further information, please contact Alex’s office on 020 7219 7157