Local taxi drivers must be trained to accept guide dogs

Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council are set to put a motion at Torbay’s Full Council meeting on 19 October, demanding that taxi drivers have adequate training to ensure that assistance dogs can use this service.

A Torquay Liberal Democrat councillor, Mandy Darling, who is a guide dog user herself, said: “On a recent visit to Bournemouth I encountered discrimination when trying to use a taxi. As a regular user of taxis in Torbay I can say the vast majority provide an outstanding service but I want to ensure that we adopt best practice in order that visitors and locals who use assistance dogs do not suffer the discrimination I experienced in Bournemouth.”

A Paignton Liberal Democrat councillor, Ian Doggett, who is seconding the motion said,:“I am aware that Torbay Council is currently reviewing its policies around licencing of taxis. It is, therefore, very timely that we can put this motion forward. We want to send a positive message that Torbay is an open and tolerant community. I hope as part of this review we can not only improve the lot of assistance dog users but also take account of other disabilities such as those who may suffer from dementia.”

The motion is as follows:

Council Motion – “Access All Areas”
19 October 2017

This Council notes:
• That a Guide Dogs’ survey found that 42% of assistance dog owners were refused by a taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) driver over a one-year period despite this being a criminal offence under the Equality Act 2010;
• The significant impact such refusals can have on assistance dog owners’ lives, leading to feelings of embarrassment and anger as well as to a loss of independence, mobility and an associated detrimental impact on mental health;
• That disability equality training for taxi and PHV drivers has helped to reduce the number of access refusals; and

This Council believes:

• That as a local authority, we are responsible for ensuring that taxis and PHVs are safe to travel in and that drivers provide good service and do not discriminate against disabled people, including those with assistance dogs; and
. that disability equality training should be a priority amongst plans to improve local taxi and PHV services.
This Council resolves:

• to review its Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Policy and introduce a provision for all drivers to undertake disability equality training when obtaining their Torbay Council drivers licence and at regular intervals.
• To only issue a medical exemption certificate when it is evidenced by a medical practitioner and accompanied by medical evidence, for example a blood test, a skin prick test or clinical history.
• To investigate all reported access refusals with a view to pursuing a conviction under the Equality Act 2010, and ensuring appropriate penalties are imposed in line with the distressing impact a refusal can have on an assistance dog owner.
• To undertake periodic test purchasing on licenced vehicles to ensure that licensing requirements are being complied with.

Proposer: Councillor Darling (M)
Seconder: Councillor Doggett

Contact Cllr Mandy Darling 0719566606
               Cllr Ian Doggett 01803 555025

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