Blind groups welcome taxi driver's 'no guide dog' fine
Blind charities have welcomed the conviction of a taxi driver who refused to take a passenger with a guide dog.
Nader Rohbani-Eivazi, 49, told Janice Powers he would not take her dog Wayne in his cab from an equality event in Cardiff Bay.
When she protested, he said: "Take me to court". Rohbani-Eivazi was fined £200 with £215 costs by magistrates for breaking disability laws.
RNIB Cymru hailed it as a landmark case for "respect and dignity".
Ms Powers, 49, who is blind and has arthritis, had been at the launch of a diversity and equality initiative at the Welsh assembly buildings in Cardiff Bay with Wayne, her six-year-old Labrador retriever.
She was travelling with a visually-impaired colleague from Swansea and her twin sister, Nadine Brodrick, from Swansea, and her sighted guide Rose Casburn-Davies, 48, from Carmarthen.
The four tried to take the taxi to the railway station in time for the last train to Carmarthen, where Ms Powers lives.
She said: "It was late and we were cold and wanted to get home, but when approached the lead hackney carriage for a lift the driver just said: "Four people but no dog."
"We were flabbergasted, especially as he had disabled stickers on display.
"But when we pointed out that he would be breaking the law if he refused to take my guide dog he just said: "Take me to court".
"He wouldn't have it, we were all so upset, it was late and we were in danger of missing the 10pm train."
The group found another driver to take them and Wayne and none missed their train.
Ms Powers contacted Cardiff council and the local authority took out an enforcement action against Rohbani-Eivazi, 49, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, and provided a council solicitor for the case.
Cardiff, Vales and Valleys Institute for the Blind, RNIB Cymru and Guide Dogs for the Blind also supported the action.
Cardiff magistrates found Rohbani-Eivazi guilty of breaking the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
RNIB Cymru director Sarah Rochira said: "I'm delighted that Janice won this case.
"There are over 100,000 people in Wales with sight loss, many of whom struggle everyday to lead independent lives.
"We know that being able to get about independently is one of the most important things that people with sight loss want to be able to do.
"We also know that there are many people who face problems such as those experienced by Janice."
She added that the verdict sent "a clear message to people providing services - that they must treat people with respect and dignity."
Councillor Ed Bridges, chair of Cardiff's Licensing Committee, said he recently met with representatives of Cardiff Institute for the Blind and was concerned to hear of the problems that their members encounter with "some elements of the taxi trade in Cardiff".
"All licensed taxi drivers are bound within a set of rules which protect the public's interests and regulate the taxi trade," he said.
"This prosecution sends a clear message to taxi drivers in the city that they are bound to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 or face the consequences.
"Cardiff Council investigates all complaints concerning taxi drivers as public safety is of great concern to us, and I would urge anybody to complain if they are dissatisfied with the service they receive."