Glenda speaks out over ‘regular snubs’ for blind and disabled across town

Glenda Holding with her guide dog Vicky
Glenda Holding with her guide dog Vicky

Blind people are regularly snubbed by taxi drivers and eating establishments in Hemel Hempstead, it is claimed.

That is the experience of guide dog user Glenda Holding who was once turned away from seven eateries in just one evening in the town.

Guide dogs are allowed everywhere, in any public place. You really shouldn’t be having to tell people – the staff should be aware.

Glenda Holding, guide dog owner

The 50-year-old recently testified against a Hemel Hempstead taxi driver who refused to take her in his cab because she had guide dog Vicky with her.

“I have had this happen to me many times before – it is not a new thing,” she said.

“Some just don’t like having the dog in the car. I have had issues before when they have asked me for £2 extra for the dog because they have to clean the car because the dog has been in there.”

As reported in last week’s Gazette, Hackney carriage driver Rajesh Kumar Punni was fined £300 and ordered to pay £741 in court costs after refusing to pick up Glenda at the town centre taxi rank in December last year.

But Glenda, who runs a toddler group at the town centre’s Salvation Army base, has revealed this type of discrimination is not uncommon.

She said: “I’ve just stopped taking taxis and I only take them if I absolutely have to. If you fight and get into the taxi it is really uncomfortable.

“I don’t want to have the hassle. I have to explain myself every time I get a taxi and it’s not fair.

“Sometimes wheelchair users have this problem so it’S an issue.”

Glenda, who lived in Adeyfield for 20 years before recently moving to Leighton Buzzard, was born with retinitis pigmentosa – better known as tunnel vision – which means she is now completely night blind and has a very small field of vision.

She received her first guide dog in 2002 and Vicky is her second assistance dog.

She said: “One evening with my first guide dog I went out and seven eating establishments wouldn’t allow me entry with my dog,” said Glenda, who has even been told to leave the animal outside.

“I don’t think they are as aware of the law as they should be and I don’t think they realise that guide dogs are specially trained to know what to do in those situations.”

She added she also regularly gets challenged by security guards when entering local supermarkets.

Glenda said: “Guide dogs are allowed everywhere, in any public place. You really shouldn’t be having to tell people – the staff should be aware.

“There are a number of guide dog users in Hemel itself, it is not like I’m the only one they will come across.”