Anger after taxi drivers leave blind people with guide dogs at side of the road

Heartless taxi drivers have been leaving blind or visually impaired people and their guide dogs at the side of the road after refusing to pick them up. Council bosses say they have intelligence people with guide dogs have been refused journeys or drivers have driven off when seeing them waiting.

Complaints have prompted an undercover operation in Lichfield to test if drivers will refuse to pick up customers with guide dogs. Any drivers caught doing this have been warned they could be stripped of their licence.

They have also been told further undercover tests will take place. No drivers refused to take the fare during the latest operation, although one did drive off when Guide Dogs charity regional policy and campaigns manager Jessica Luke and guide dog Pebble approached a taxi rank. That driver was later questioned by licensing officers and was able to prove that he had received a booking for another journey.

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Many people with guide dogs have experienced problems getting taxis because drivers don't want the hassle of having to carry a dog or help passengers into their cars. Lichfield cabinet member Cllr Alex Farrell said: “This operation was organised after receiving intelligence that taxi drivers have been refusing to carry visually impaired people accompanied by a working guide dog.

"I’m pleased that all the drivers who were checked during this operation complied with their legal requirement to carry guide dogs and thank them for doing so. Further operations are planned, and it’s worth reminding drivers that if they do refuse to carry an assistance dog, including a guide dog, they face having their license suspended or revoked, and prosecution.

"Guide dogs is a fantastic charity and I’m very grateful for their support in helping us protect the rights of visually impaired people in Lichfield District.”