Published: 16:51, 25 February 2020
| Updated: 09:48, 26 February 2020
Two taxi drivers have been fined for refusing to take a partially sighted passenger and their support dog.
The person sought a ride from the Ashford International Train Station on the evening of March 21, 2019, but was refused by Jamshed Nasir of Oakland, Ashford.
The dog-assisted person - whom the council has chosen not to identify - then asked Kemal Yalcin, of the town's Ploughmans Way, who also declined to take them and left the passenger struggling to get home.
This is in spite of a legal duty on taxi drivers to take a disabled person who is accompanied by an assistance dog.
Ashford Borough Council’s licensing team decided to prosecute for the offences under the Equality Act 2010 and yesterday both defendants were found guilty at Folkestone Magistrates Court.
They had both denied the offence and therefore the matter had gone to a full trial.
District Judge Justin Barron commented upon its conclusion the taxi drivers had knowingly turned the passenger away.
He noted parliament's intention when drafting the Equality Act was to stop what had happened, to prevent disabled people being told to go to someone else down the cab rank.
The judge said to interpret the act any other way would "drive a coach and horses" through the intention of parliament when they drafted the Act.
Yalcin was fined £180, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and costs of £1,200, while Nasir was fined £270, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and costs of £1,200.
Both drivers also had their taxi licences revoked by the council at a prior hearing and neither are appealing the decision.
Chair of the council's licensing committee, Cllr Peter Feacey, said: "I hope that our action following these incidents shows how robustly we will deal with taxi drivers who fail to comply with their legal obligations and leave a potentially vulnerable person at risk."
Siobhan Meade, guide dogs engagement officer for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, said: "Refusing to carry someone who is blind or visually impaired simply because they work with a guide dog strikes at the very independence we exist to provide.
"I know from personal experience that each refusal to carry someone feels like an assault from which the mental scars remain..."
"I know from personal experience that each refusal feels like an assault from which the mental scars remain.
"We welcome Ashford Borough Council's actions in this matter and we will always support them with test-purchasing, advice and support."
More by this authorCharlie Harman