Ian Lavery tested his taxi-hailing skills at the recent Labour Party Conference in a football-themed game with Guide Dogs that had a serious message.
While trying to get a taxi to take guide-dog owner Jacqueline to her local football match, the MP for Wansbeck heard about the real problems assistance-dog owners face when being illegally refused by taxis and minicabs.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a taxi or minicab driver to refuse to take an assistance dog or to charge extra for carrying it.
However, Guide Dogs research found that 42 per cent of assistance-dog owners have been turned away by a taxi or minicab in a one-year period because of their dog and 38 per cent of them have been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.
Mr Lavery is backing the charity’s call for taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training so they understand disabled passengers’ rights and needs and feel confident to offer assistance.
He said: “Seeing the difficulties faced by a guide-dog owner in accessing taxis and minicab services really brought home the importance of highlighting the every-day struggles that disabled users face.
“I commend the work done by Guide Dogs to keep this issue at the forefront of people’s minds and on behalf of my constituents, I would like to pledge my support.”
The campaign is being supported by more than 30 organisations, such as trade bodies, local government representatives and disability groups.