I am currently at the Labour Party Annual Conference meeting with charities, businesses and pressure groups to discuss how best to overcome obstacles that they are facing.
One charity that I met was the Guide Dogs charity. I was contacted by a number of constituents requesting that he met with the Guide Dogs charity to discuss their current campaign to ensure people with sight loss are not excluded from using public transport or taxis. The two campaign are called ‘Access All Areas’ and ‘Talking Buses’.
‘Access All Areas’ was started by the Guide Dogs charity because 75% of assistance dog owners surveyed have been refused access to taxis, as well as restaurants and shops, in the last 6 months. Despite the Equality Act 2010 explicitly stated that it is illegal to refuse people with assistance dogs access, the refusal of access still continues today.
‘Talking Buses’ is campaigning to get all buses in the UK to use audio / visual aids to help people with disabilities – such as sight loss. These are already widely in use in our large cities such as London, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield, and the number 20 in Rhyl but are still to be rolled out across the country. This is removing independence from people and making public transport unfit to cater for everyone’s needs.
I pledged my support for these campaigns at the Labour Party Annual Conference.
It was a delight to meet with the Guide Dogs charity. They have been campaigning hard to ensure that these reasonable changes are brought forward to UK policy. A number of constituents wrote to me requesting that I meet with the charity and I was more than happy to do so.
Within Parliament I have already written to the Minister responsible for buses and public transport to urge the Government supports the calls for audio / visual announcements on buses. It will ensure that everyone has the freedom to live their lives independently.
When in Government, Labour was able to lay the foundations for protecting people from assistance dogs from discrimination. But more still needs to be done. The current Government should be making it clear that taxis, shops and restaurants cannot refuse people access if they have an assistant dog.