AN investigation has been launched into claims that taxi drivers in Aberdeen are refusing to allow guide dogs into their cars on “religious” grounds.
• Some taxi drivers in Aberdeen have refused to let guide dogs on board, it has been claimed
• Refusals down to “religious” reasons, according to chairman of Disability Advisory Group
Members of Aberdeen City Council’s taxi consultation group have ordered the investigation following complaints raised by the city’s Disability Advisory Group.
According a minute of a recent meeting of the consultation group, the Disability Advisory Group had provided details in relation to “several instances” where taxi drivers in the city had allegedly refused to take “visually impaired” passengers to their destination due to the fact that they were accompanied by their guide dogs.
Stephanie Dunsmuir, Clerk to the Disability Advisory Group, stated in a letter to the consultation group: “Members have experienced several instances of taxi drivers refusing to take them to their destination due to the fact that they will be accompanied by their guide dogs.
“Although both members have pointed out that legislation requires taxis to transport passengers and their working dogs unless the driver has a medical exemption, the drivers in question have refused, simply because they do not wish to have a dog in their car.”
Ms Dunsmuir continued: “Our members have also had drivers tell them that they do not wish to have a dog sit on the leather seats of the car. The members have of course pointed out that any trained working dog would sit on the floor of the car and not on the seats. However the drivers concerned have still refused to transport the members as a result.”
Alastair Williamson, the chairman of the Disability Advisory Group, then told the meeting that “apparently certain refusals to carry assistance dogs were due to religious reasons.”
The minute continues: “Paul Connolly (the council’s solicitor for litigation and licensing) explained that although there was a requirement in the licensing conditions for taxi drivers to carry assistance dogs in terms of the Equality Act 2010, there were also protected characteristics relating to religion in the Act. Mr Connolly indicated that he would contact the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for clarification in this regard.”
The consolation group has asked council officers to investigate the claims. The consultation group’s report is due to go before a meeting of the council’s licensing committee next Tuesday.
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: “The licensing committee will consider the minute of the meeting of the taxi consultation group next week and decide what action if any it wishes to take.”