A hackney carriage driver who refused to take a blind woman’s assistant dog has been fined £100 and ordered to pay £325 prosecution costs.
On Wednesday 1 July 2015 at Harrogate Magistrate Court, Mr Cemil Guclu pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to carry an assistance dog in his taxi contrary to section 168 of the Equality Act 2010.
The court heard that Mr Guclu, who had been parked on the Station Parade taxi rank in Harrogate, wouldn’t allow the assistance dog in his vehicle despite being told that the animal couldn’t be refused carriage. Both the dog’s owner and Mr Guclu subsequently reported the incident to Harrogate Borough Council’s Taxi Licensing team.
Mr Guclu’s actions broke the conditions of the licence he was granted by Harrogate Borough Council. Under the Equality Act 2010, taxi and private hire drivers must allow guide, hearing or assistance dogs to be carried in their vehicles. Drivers may apply to the council for an exemption on medical grounds, but Mr Guclu had not done this. In mitigation, Mr Guclu told the court he was fearful of dogs and for this reason did not want to carry the animal.
Mr Guclu was fined £100, and ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £20 and £325 towards the council’s prosecution costs, making a total of £445.
Councillor John Ennis, Harrogate Borough Council’s Licensing Committee Chairman said:
Assistance dogs enable people who are blind or partially sighted to travel independently and if a taxi driver refuses to carry such an animal it can have a serious impact on the owner’s freedom of movement.
I hope this conviction sends out a strong message to taxi drivers. Refusing to carry an assistance dog, unless you have a valid medical exemption certificate, is simply not an option. Anyone doing so will face a large fine and their action could have a serious impact on their livelihood.