Wycombe taxis get a paws up from Guide Dogs
The licensing team at Wycombe District Council has been working with Guide Dogs for the Blind to see how well local Hackney carriage and private hire vehicle drivers respond to a visually impaired passenger with a guide dog.
A member of the environment team went out with Guide Dogs for the Blind local representative Clive Wood and his assistance dog, Winnie to carry out mystery shopper or sample purchase random tests to see how drivers responded. The tests were carried out using a selection of different local companies and a range of different journeys to get a representative picture.
The test operation with Clive’s black Labrador guide dog Winnie was very successful and the taxi drivers and private hire drivers, who were not aware that they were being tested, performed well within expectations.
Clive said: “Guide Dogs were pleased to work with Wycombe District Council to evaluate the standard of service provided to guide dog owners by taxi operators who are licenced by the council. It is not uncommon for us to hear from visually impaired people across the UK that a taxi provider has refused to take them because they have a guide dog. We want to get the message across that a guide dog is a vital mobility aid and it is illegal to refuse a service to a guide dog owner.”
Cllr Julia Adey, Cabinet Member for Environment at Wycombe District Council, is responsible for the licensing work which the council does. She said: “I’m delighted that our local drivers came out with flying colours and showed us how helpful they can be. Local taxi and mini cab drivers provide a vital service for everyone who lives in or visits our area, whether they are able-bodied or disabled, whether they have wheelchairs or assistance dogs.
“That’s why we run sample purchase operations like this one and other enforcement spot checks to help ensure that the taxi and private hire drivers operating in our district are complying with their licence. It’s important that the public have peace of mind that local drivers and companies are operating legally and offering a good service.”