Hertfordshire taxi firm refused to take booking from passenger who had an assistance dog

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A taxi firm who refused to take a booking from a passenger with a guide dog has been ordered to pay out more than £900.

Rainbow Travel, who have a booking office at Apsley Railway Station, told the passenger that all of their cars were busy when advised that they would be travelling with an assistance dog, having initially agreed to dispatch a vehicle.

Company director Imtiaz Ahmed pleaded guilty to charges under the Equality Act 2010 at St Albans Magistrates Court on Wednesday (April 26).

The firm was ordered to pay more than £900 in fines, costs and victim surcharge, and will now face a review of its operating licence.

After the hearing, Dacorum Borough Council’s licensing team leader Ross Hill said: “Taxis and private hire vehicles provide a vital service for people with disabilities, and it is wholly unacceptable that a taxi company should discriminate against any passenger with an assistance dog by refusing a booking.

“Incidents of this type can cause significant distress to passengers, and we trust that this penalty will act to deter any future occurrences.

“The council is committed to ensuring that our licensed taxis and private hire vehicles are accessible to all, and we will not hesitate to take action.”

Private hire operators, private hire drivers and taxi drivers cannot refuse fares which involve carrying assistance dogs, nor charge extra for the journey. Doing so is a criminal offence, and can be punished with fines of up to £1,000.

Drivers with genuine and serious medical conditions affected by dogs can apply to the council for a medical exemption certificate, but will only be exempted from the legal duty to carry assistance dogs if the certificate is on display in the vehicle – to date, no exemption certificates have been issued to any Dacorum driver.

f you have been refused a journey by a taxi, private hire vehicle or private hire operator due to a disability or presence of an assistance dog, email to licensing@dacorum.gov.uk