TAXI drivers in Trafford are being warned they will be prosecuted if they refuse to accept blind passengers with guide dogs.

The warning comes after private-hire driver Mohamed Kulaten pleaded guilty at Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court for refusing to take Joanne Welbon home from work.

The 57-year-old driver, from Fallowfield, was fined £300 and ordered to pay £300 costs and a victim surcharge of £30.

The driver claimed he was allergic to dogs.

But checks by the Trafford Council's licensing team confirmed that Kulaten had never sought or been granted an allergy exemption by Manchester City Council, which issued his licence.

Joanne, who was aware of the legislation making it illegal for the driver not to pick her up, challenged him, but he drove off, leaving her stranded.

Joanne had been refused about 15 times by taxi drivers in the past, but wanted to take action after the latest incident last September.

Cllr David Hopps, Trafford Council’s executive member for housing and strategic planning, said: “The licensing regime for taxis, whether they are private hire or Hackney Carriages, is primarily a public protection role.

"In issuing licences to drivers, all councils must be satisfied that they are fit and proper persons to carry out the role.

“This is especially important when vulnerable passengers are involved. It is completely unacceptable for a licensed driver to behave in this way and leave a passenger stranded.

"This conviction serves as a reminder to all licensed taxi drivers that this type of discriminatory and illegal behaviour will not be tolerated.”

In addition to this prosecution, Kulaten has also been reported to Manchester City Council, which issued his licence, to take any further appropriate action that it sees fit.

Kulaten was convicted after pleading guilty to the offence of refusing to carry out a booking accepted by the operator, because a guide dog accompanied the passenger, under Section 170 of the Equalities Act 2010.