A man who was refused travel because of his guide dog hopes the prosecution of two taxi drivers today will mean other people will not have to suffer like he did.
Mr Saleh Attia and Mr Ramesh Krishnan were prosecuted by Braintree District Council for refusing to convey an assistance dog contrary to the Equalities Act 2010.
They pleaded guilty when they appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court today (October 8).
Mr Saleh Attia was fined £150, ordered to pay victim surcharge of £20, compensation to Mr Lee of £50 and full costs to Braintree District Council of £706.75.
Mr Ramesh Krishnan was fined £150, ordered to pay victim surcharge of £20, compensation to Mr Lee of £50 and full costs to BDC of £698.25.
Braintree District Council brought the prosecution after Philip Lee who is registered blind, approached two Braintree District Council Hackney Carriage Vehicles on the taxi rank in Manor Street, Braintree, Essex on Thursday, February 12, 2015.
Mr Lee asked the driver of a Hackney Carriage Vehicle on the rank to transport him to Braintree College, the driver Mr Saleh Attia of Nottage Crescent, Braintree refused to allow the guide dog into his vehicle. Another Hackney Carriage Vehicle driven by Mr Ramesh Krishnan of Coggeshall Road, Braintree also refused to take Mr Lee and his guide dog.
Mr Lee then approached a third Hackney Carriage Vehicle and the driver agreed to take Mr Lee and dog Nan to their destination.
Mr Lee said: “About 40 per cent of guide dog owners are refused taxis across the country so I hope my case prevents others from going through the same ordeal. I’ve had guide dog Nan for the last five years and she has given me the confidence to go out on my own.”
Wendy Schmitt, Cabinet Member for Environment and Place at Braintree District Council, stressed that the vast majority of taxi drivers in Braintree are helpful and responsible and this is the first time Braintree District Council has had to take such action. She said: “It’s simply not acceptable for anyone to be refused services because of a disability. Guide dogs help people travel independently so we hope by prosecuting in this case we are giving out a strong message that taxis must carry out their legal and moral obligations.”