A private hire taxi driver working in Chorley has had his licence revoked after refusing to carry a vulnerable passenger because of her assistance dog.
The woman was left “stranded” following the aborted pick-up at Chorley Hospital back in April.
The driver denied an allegation that he had objected to the assistance dog being unclean, but Chorley Council’s licensing panel did not accept his alternative explanation for leaving the woman at the roadside.
The committee’s decision was made at a behind-closed-doors meeting, details of which have only just been published. Neither the driver nor the rejected passenger have been identified.
The panel heard that the driver had been aware of the presence of the dog when he accepted the booking. When he arrived to collect his fare, he found that the animal had just been to the toilet and its owner was cleaning up.
Members were told that the driver asked the passenger to sit in the back of the vehicle where she would “be more comfortable”. He claimed that she then refused to travel with him, but he denied arguing with the woman.
Audio recordings were played to the panel in which the taxi call operator could be heard telling the driver it would be illegal for him to refuse the booking – contradicting his earlier claim that it was the operator who told him to leave.
But the driver did leave – without advising the woman that the operator had arranged for another vehicle to be sent. Questioned as to how he felt about abandoning the passenger with no knowledge of what was happening, the driver said there was only so long that he could remain parked up in the area.
The hospital receptionist who called the cab on the woman’s behalf complained about the incident several weeks later.
In revoking the driver’s licence, the panel found that the breach of conditions was aggravated by the woman’s vulnerability. Members also noted that he was an experienced driver who knew his obligations under the law, as well as his licence.
Peter Gorbing, chief executive of Assistance Dogs UK, said that such incidents were “not uncommon”.
“Most assistance dog-owners will have experienced something similar and they are often just left hanging without the ability to arrange for another taxi themselves.
“It’s very distressing for people and they can be left with a huge sense of anguish about going out after something like this happens to them,” he added.