Syed Al Miah recently appeared at Exeter Magistrates Court after launching an appeal against East Devon District Council’s decision to take away his licence following a complaint.
It was alleged he had refused to transport two visually impaired people and their guide dogs in his vehicle after they had requested a taxi to take them from a hotel to the train station in December 2017.
The court was told when the taxi driver arrived at the hotel, he informed hotel staff and the two customers he would not take the dogs and drove away.
It was heard Miah, of Birchwood Avenue, Weston Super Mare, had changed his story on several occasions.
At interview he said he was scared of the dogs, but at a licensing hearing he stated for safety reasons he believed his vehicle not to be big enough, despite it being licensed to carry five passengers.
At the appeal hearing he claimed when arriving at the hotel he wasn’t sure if he had attended the correct job.
During an investigation into the complaint by the council, officers established he had not operated as a taxi driver in East Devon at any point since obtaining his licence from the district council in 2016, but instead had worked from North Somerset where the incident occurred.
East Devon’s licensing sub-committee decided to revoke the taxi driver’s licence as they felt he was no longer considered as a fit and proper person to hold the licence due to his actions, and he did not operate as a taxi driver in East Devon.
Councils have legal powers to suspend or revoke the licence of a taxi driver on certain grounds and all councils granting licences to taxi drivers need to be satisfied that the person is fit and proper.
The Equality Act 2010 sets out the legal duty of taxi drivers to carry assistance dogs ensuring they do not discriminate against any person because of disability and to carry a disabled person’s dog by allowing it to remain with the person and not to make any additional charge for doing so. Refusal to carry registered assistance dogs without an exemption certificate is a strict liability offence.
Exeter magistrates found in favour of the council and the decision it had made to take Miah’s licence away.
Following the court hearing, Cllr Steve Hall, chairman of East Devon District Council’s licensing sub-committee, said: “The council recognises the serious nature of these allegations and the impact upon those individuals being refused transport.
“I’m pleased to say that the magistrates agreed with our approach and we will not hesitate to defend further appeals of this nature to ensure that the public receives a fair service. The safety of our public is paramount.”