Wednesday, 16 June 2010

It Seems These Are Becoming As Frequent As False Rape Claims...

...because no sooner have you blogged about one, than another turns up:
Managing director of the minicab firm Richard Harley said: “We were more than helpful to the lady and we weren’t rude.

“We didn’t have a car at that moment in time.

“Our drivers are self-employed, some take dogs and the one car we were able to offer was from someone who did not take a dog.

“They are not obliged to take anybody.

“We did not refuse to take her or the impaired person.

“This particular driver did not take dogs.”
How can you be in the minicab business and not know the law regarding guide dogs. It's not like it's a recent law, either.

Looks like someone else will be receiving a large fine in the future!

16 comments:

Angry Exile said...

I may be mistaken but I thought there were different rules for minicabs and taxis. One is private hire and could do business with who they like and one is on a Hackney license and has to take anyone who isn't actually kicking the shit out of him and his car, isn't it? If it's minicabs then I'm not sure this mob are doing anything technically wrong unless there's a local byelaw against being obnoxious dickheads or shithouse businessmen.

Chalcedon said...

A mini cab is a private hire but the law applies to them as well as Hackney carriages.

sobers said...

I think that Disability Discrimination laws apply to all businesses - you can't get away with not allowing disabled access in your shop by saying its private property for example, so if you are taking passengers for hire or reward then you are covered too. A private individual could say 'No Dogs' in their car, but then they aren't getting paid.

Angry Exile said...

Just read the article linked to and I stand corrected. But if I was a cabbie I'd be ambivalent about taking a dog, be it guide, police, mountain rescue, cartoon talking or whatever, unless the vehicle was kitted out for it. That means probably an estate/wagon with a dog guard between that and the seats, or maybe a London black cab with some dog harness in that empty bit next to the driver. What if it's pissing down with rain and he's got to take a wet and muddy dog where passengers have to sit? The poor sod might be picking up suited and booted wedding guests next, and they're liable to ask for another car instead.

Mandating that taxi firms should have at least one such dog-friendly vehicle available during business hours would be one thing, but should the law really force one man band owner-drivers, and I bet there are tens of thousands, either to buy a certain type of vehicle at greater cost or to take dogs in a vehicle that might not really be suitable? If someone wants to cater to a market that not all their competitors do then good for them and they deserve to rake it in. But if someone doesn't want to or can't afford to why should their right to pick and choose who they deal with be sacrificed for political correctness.

Sorry. I don't particularly care about their reasons but I'm with the cab drivers on this.

sobers said...

@Angry Exile: the law is clear - you take passengers in your vehicle, you HAVE to take guide dogs. Simple as that. Don't want dogs in your precious motor, then don't be a private hire car. Otherwise be prepared - have blankets, covers etc ready to hand and a mini vac to clear up after. Plus guide dogs are by definition the best behaved dogs you will get. We are not talking your average mutt here.

sobers said...

Plus I would be interested to know precisely why this particular driver didn't want a dog in his car. He couldn't be a member of a certain peace loving religion by any chance? They seem to have previous in such cases.

Angry Exile said...

I'm not arguing what the law says, I'm asking whether it is right that the force of law is brought to bear on the simple matter of who a businessman chooses to do business with. If he wants to refuse a section of his market and drive them all into the arms of his opposition, possibly along with those who sympathise with them, surely that's his lookout. Why is an Act brought in for PC reasons necessary? Why should we even care what his reasons are? If he wants to make less money than his more flexible competitors that's his problem.

Like I said, if I was joining the taxi trade I would not want to take any dogs - even mine (actually, especially mine) - unless in a suitable vehicle, which common sense says to me is a nice big wagon with a dog guard behind the rear seats or something a lot like it. This would seem to be a bit of a shit taxi for wheelchair users unfortunately... but what if I'd rather have a nice people carrier specially adapted for wheelchair use because I want to focus on that sector of my market, but which doesn't have a boot and so doesn't really cater for a dog? Or what if the vehicle I can actually afford is a boggo four door saloon? Is it necessary that the law demands taxi vehicles to be jacks of all trades rather than master of one or two?

For that matter, what if it's a suitable car but the driver is booked for a job in the opposite direction? What's the practical difference between not taking these folks because it clashes and not taking them because the guy's honest enough to say he has a problem with the dog?

Sorry folks, but from where I sit it seems this law is deep in victimhood poker. Clearly religions take a back seat (sorry) to disabilities, and not having a religion I don't particularly care. But remind me, does blind trump wheelchair or is it the other way around? All I can remember at this point is that freedom to choose comes plumb last and is worth nothing ;-)

Angry Exile said...

Or to put it another way, if you're a cab driver and you pick up a passenger who is not of the same culture and nationality and spends the whole trip saying how much he hates you, your race, your fellow citizens, your country and everything about it, and very much hopes that you all die horribly in a plague, wouldn't you want the freedom to stop your car and tell him to fuck off and walk? Do taxis drivers have that freedom? If not why not, and how would exercising this freedom substantively different from choosing who gets in your taxi in the first place?

Anonymous said...

It reads like there is slightly more to this story than meets the eye. If you were booking a minicab, you wouldn't even mention the dog because you'd assume that the cars were compliant. Instead, a third party is booking the car and has an argument on the phone, not even a case of a driver turning up and then refusing. Something doesn't sound right.

There is an explanatory note of the short act which extended the rules to minicabs.

"The operator, or driver, of a PHV, will commit an offence if he refuses to accept a booking for or on behalf of a disabled person, or if he refuses to carry a disabled person, because that disabled person will be accompanied by a guide dog, hearing dog, or other assistance dog."

Note that the operator did not refuse to carry the person; they agreed to do so when a suitable car could be found.

However, the wording of the Private Hire Vehicles (Carriage of Guide Dogs etc.) Act 2002 is stronger than that and amends the Disability Discrimination Act at 37A

(3) It is an offence for the driver of a private hire vehicle to fail or refuse to carry out a booking accepted by the operator of the vehicle—

(a) if the booking was made by or on behalf of a disabled person, or a person who wishes a disabled person to accompany him; and

(b) the reason for the failure or refusal is that the disabled person is accompanied by his assistance dog.

Note also that there are exemption certificates available on medical grounds, including whether the car is suitable for carrying a dog.

A situation where it would not be an offence (arguably, since nobody has tested this yet) is where an aid dog is accompanying someone who is not disabled. Also, the Act does not cover companion dogs who are not aid dogs. A deaf person who happened to be taking a friend's guide dog to the vet's might not be within the scope of the act.

A vagueness in the press report is that no driver has refused to carry a guide dog in this story; it is only the operator (if a booking service counts as an operator for the purposes of the act) who has claimed that a driver will not take dogs. That's not the same as a refusal by a specific driver who has been asked about a specific dog and owner who come within the scope of the act.

Woman on a Raft said...

There's another aspect of the story.

"Emma Boswell was visiting Ms Patton’s 19-year-old son Max for a three-hour appointment to prepare for his future needs, by filling in applications to get him a guide dog as well as a white walking stick.

An application to get a white stick? You don't need an application. You need between £35 and £100 (depending on model) and perhaps five minutes help with the ordering.

Why doesn't the charity just supply white sticks - there are several world charities which do - if it feels they are such a good idea.

(That was me at 15:35; I don't know why it is anonymous).

Vetnurse said...

A guide dog is trained to travel sitting on the floor of the taxi in the foot well. Generally the handler sits in the front and the dog between their feet, lying down a lot of the time.
This means that you won't get dirty paws or hair on your seat or very little.
In a collision the dog is already low on the floor is less likely to catapult forwards and slam into someone or windows. That is the reason dog guards or restrainers for dogs are fitted.
I know how GD travel because that's how my friends GD travels and he is welcome to sit on a seat in my car but doesn't.

Angry Exile said...

Understood, but not the point.

I get to pick and choose my clients. My criteria are very broad - the only colour I care about is money, the only ability I care about is the ability to pay, the only god that matters is mammon - but I get to pick and choose my clients. If I don't want to work for someone for whatever reason I don't take the job on.

How come I'm free to choose but the cab driver is forced by law to accept clients he doesn't want?

It's the use of law to force people to do what others want rather than what they want that I find objectionable. That applies whether it's a taxi driver forced to take aboard an animal against his wish or, to use an example from these parts, someone being told they can't choose who to sell their house to (Pauline Hanson wanted to put a no Muslims condition on the sale of her house but the law wouldn't let her - personally I can't stand the woman but it's her fucking house to do with as she wants... or at least it should be).

JuliaM said...

"But if I was a cabbie I'd be ambivalent about taking a dog, be it guide, police, mountain rescue, cartoon talking or whatever, unless the vehicle was kitted out for it. "

As I said on the other thread, all things being equal, I'd be happy to let the market decide too.

However. I too suspect this is a 'religious' thing, rather than a H&S thing.

And while everyone else (who might not want to take dogs for personal reasons) has to abide by it, the Muslims can just shut up and comply too...

"Note that the operator did not refuse to carry the person; they agreed to do so when a suitable car could be found. "

There must be some sort of 'within reasonable time' though? Or to dodge this, all you'd have to do was say 'Sure, we can take you - next Tuesday'...

"An application to get a white stick? You don't need an application. You need between £35 and £100 (depending on model)..."

For a white stick!? Jeez....

"In a collision the dog is already low on the floor is less likely to catapult forwards and slam into someone or windows."

I remember seeing something about the dangers of that.

"It's the use of law to force people to do what others want rather than what they want that I find objectionable."

Me too. But if it's going to be applied, there should be no 'get out' clauses for certain groups.

Angry Exile said...

"I too suspect this is a 'religious' thing, rather than a H&S thing."

Yeah, maybe. I don't know and I don't think the reason is really that relevant. The fact that someone's sky-fairy says no dogs has the same end result as if the driver is allergic to them. Or has decided that if the authorities are going to be like that he's going to start carrying that bloody bale of hay and no longer has room for the dog as well ;-) I might not take a job because I'm busy or because I'm convinced that my horoscope says not to do jobs for Virgos because the wrong sign is in my anus. Being at liberty to do business with who you like carries no requirement to give a logical reason.


"...if it's going to be applied, there should be no 'get out' clauses for certain groups."

Which is where I think Anglospheric cultures tend to go about things the wrong way. In Britain, and I get the impression here too, when group X has a special exemption and is allowed to do something the rest of us aren't the reaction is to protest that actually group X should get no such exemption because it's not fair on everybody else.

Wrong move.

What we should do is actually support the exemption for group X but demand the exemption is extended to groups Y and Z, and then L, K, and J and eventually the whole alphabet. Result: no special treatment for certain groups. Equality all round.

But we need to stop getting hung up on reasons. It's knives again - who cares why a Sikh is allowed to carry a small knife? Honestly, who really gives a rip? The point is that he is and everyone else isn't/ The result is that the Sikh has a get out for his kirpan if stopped by the cops while some carpet fitter who forgot to put a knife back in his toolbox is going to end up nicked. Why demand the Sikh be dragged down to the same lack of liberty as everyone else when we could instead demand the same freedom instead?

Why demand that all taxi drivers have no right to choose their clients because some are mozzies turning people away for religious reasons, when we could turn it on its head and demand that everyone is free to deal with who they want?

JuliaM said...

"Why demand that all taxi drivers have no right to choose their clients because some are mozzies turning people away for religious reasons, when we could turn it on its head and demand that everyone is free to deal with who they want?"

That works for me! It's not too hard to start your own religion either. Just look at L Ron Hubbard.. ;)

Angry Exile said...

Good idea. I'll have the flyers printed up for the Church of Angry (first commandment: thou shalt fuck off if you're from the government) some time next week :-)