A cabbie has been fined £600 after refusing to pick up a blind passenger with their assistance dog.
Rossendale Hackney carriage driver Taiwo Osazuwa, aged 59 of Teddington Road, New Moston, Manchester, was booked to collect a passenger from ASDA in Eastlands on 3 June 2016. However after arriving at the collection point and seeing the assistance dog Osazuwa refused to allow the passenger into his vehicle.
The refusal was in contravention of the Equality Act 2010, which specifically requires taxi and private hire drivers to carry guide dogs (and other assistance dogs).
At the time on the incident Osazuwa was working for a private hire operator – the operator was made aware of the assistance dog when the initial booking was taken. This information was passed on to Osazuwa before he was dispatched.
Following the incident the passenger contacted another private hire company, who dispatched a vehicle and collected them without incident.
Osazuwa appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court on Wednesday 15 February 2016, where he pleaded not guilty. After hearing evidence from both sides the court found Osazuwa guilty – ordering him to pay a fine of £65 along with costs of £500 and a victim sur charge of £35.
Osazuwa holds a Hackney carriage licence with Rossendale Borough Council – though in this instance he was working for a Manchester private hire firm. Rossendale Borough Council will now invite Osazuwa to a hearing to assess his ability to continue to hold a hackney carriage driver licence.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council executive member for neighbourhoods said: “We expect the highest standards from all taxi and private hire drivers operating in Manchester and will not tolerate anything less that exemplary behaviour.
“Assistance dogs are indispensable for many people with visual impairments allowing them a level of independence that might otherwise be impossible – so it is vital that both Hackney and Private Hire vehicles allow passengers with assistance dogs.
““I hope the severity of this fine reminds all drivers of their responsibilities. Unfortunately this problem often goes unreported, so I’d ask that anyone who has faced a similar issue to report it to us.”