Minicab licence revoked for refusing assistance dog AFTER operator warned of loss of licence risk

A Chorley private hire driver has had his licence revoked after refusing to take an assistance dog AFTER speaking with his operator.

The Licensing Officer of the General Licensing Sub-Committee outlined his report, highlighting that Chorley Council received a complaint on 6 June stating that the private hire licence holder refused to take a passenger with an assistance dog on Saturday, 6 April. The taxi was booked by a member of staff from Chorley Hospital Emergency Department on behalf of the passenger.

The minicab driver, who can’t be named, was in attendance to listen to evidence submitted as audio recordings; the Licensing Sub-Committee proceeded to listen to those recordings which involved the booking being discussed, the booking being taken, the discussion between the driver and his operator after the driver had arrived for pick up, and a conversation between the minicab operator and the person making the booking on behalf of the passenger.

In response to further questioning from the council committee, it was noted that the man was aware that the passenger was accompanied by an assistance dog when he accepted the booking.

The minicab driver advised that, upon his arrival, the passenger was waiting outside with her assistance dog. The dog made a mess and he waited while it was cleaned up. The driver advised that he asked the passenger to sit in the back of the vehicle as it would be more comfortable for her. He stated that he did not refuse to take her but instead that the passenger refused to travel with him, despite him saying twice that she could sit wherever she wanted in the vehicle. The licensed private hire driver advised the Sub-Committee that the passenger had not made this complaint but that a third party had made the complaint a long time after the incident.

The council noted that the complaint had been made by a receptionist at the hospital who made the booking on behalf of the passenger, and that the complaint had been received on 6 June, two months after the incident on 6 April.

The Sub-Committee listened again to the audio recording of the private hire driver’s conversation with the operator.

In response to questions, the driver confirmed he knew about the assistance dog when he took the booking, and that he understood the warning given by his booking operator during their phone conversation that refusing a passenger with an assistance dog was against the law and might result in him losing his licence. He advised that journeys with assistance dogs were not uncommon, but the frequency varied, and he confirmed he was still employed by Yellow Cabs.

The council's Licensing Officer asked the minicab driver why during his interview under caution he had stated the operator had told him to leave, when the recording demonstrated that the operator warned him that refusing the booking was illegal.

The driver responded that he had liaised with the operator through the taxi app prior to the phone conversation.

The Chorley Council officer then reminded the driver that he had stated in the interview, under caution, that the dog was dirty and asked whether this was the reason he had refused the booking. The male driver responded that he had not argued with the passenger and that he had asked her to sit in the back. Members asked for clarification as to whether the passenger was refused because the dog was regarded as dirty and the minicab driver advised that this was not an issue.

The Licensing Officer then asked if he had informed the passenger that another taxi was being sent for her before he left. The driver responded that he had left after speaking with his private hire operator. When asked how he felt about leaving the passenger stranded with no knowledge that another taxi was coming, the Chorley driver advised that there was a limit to how long he could stay parked there.

The Chorley Council Sub Committee found the driver no longer a fit and proper person to hold a private hire driver and hackney carriage driver’s licence and his licence was revoked.

Credit image: Pexels

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