MP calls businesses to account in guide dogs campaign

Jul 10, 2019

MP Mark Lancaster at the Guide Dogs event in Westminster.

BUSINESSES that deny access to guide dog owners because of their animals must be held accountable, says a local MP.

Mark Lancaster has added his voice to the Access All Areas campaign being run by the charity Guide Dogs, which aims to tackle discrimination against guide dog owners.

Mr Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, met guide dog owners at an event in Westminster, where he heard their stories of businesses refusing to allow them entry with their guide dogs. A survey by the Guide Dogs charity found that 76% of owners had been refused access by businesses.

“It was disturbing to hear how common these incidents of discrimination are for assistance dog owners,” Mr Lancaster said. “No one should be turned away on their local high street because of their assistance dog.

“I support Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to tackle the ignorance that causes access refusals and to make sure businesses are held accountable when they occur.”

Guide Dogs is calling for disability equality training to become standard in business sectors where refusal of access is most common.

Public affairs manager Chris Theobald said: “The law is very clear that assistance dog owners have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local restaurant.

“Despite this, our survey shows assistance dog owners face refusals on a regular basis. When you rely on their guide dog to get around, businesses that refuse to allow your dog in are effectively slamming the door in your face.

“Businesses have a responsibility to make sure all their staff welcome assistance dog owners. That is why we are calling for disability equality training as standard in sectors where refusals are common. We also support an overhaul of equality legislation so that businesses that refuse access face the full consequences of the law.”

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