Coach firm's U-turn on guide dog charge

A COACH company has done a U-turn over a decision to make a blind woman pay for her guide dog to accompany her on their vehicle.

Russell Claydon

A COACH company has done a U-turn over a decision to make a blind woman pay for her guide dog to accompany her on their vehicle.

Lesley Bannister had been forced to cancel her day out to the famous gardens at Wisley after she was told to pay an extra �19 for her guide dog Nina to guarantee her place.

But since Mrs Banniser, from Great Cornard, near Sudbury, spoke to the EADT about how she thought they were discriminating against blind people, H.C. Chambers of Bures have reversed their decision.

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One of the company's owners visited her home yesterday to inform her it would never happen again and offer her free travel tickets she can use to go to September's excursion to the Royal Horticultural Society's gardens in Surrey - which have a scented area for blind people.

Mrs Banister, in her 70s, who has been registered blind for five years, said she was happy the company had seen sense and grateful to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) for their help.

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“I am delighted and relived to hear this news,” she said. “I'm very grateful to the RNIB for their help, advice and support in what has been a stressful experience for me.”

She added: “I thank Chambers Coaches for making this change to their policy and I hope to be travelling with them again.”

Bill Alker, from the RNIB, said he wanted to thank Chambers for “doing the right thing”.

He said: “Lesley has been very brave in taking this on and was right to do so. It has been a privilege to support her.

“The company's decision will be welcomed by many people. It will also be seen as a positive step to end discrimination against blind and partially sighted people from across East Anglia and the UK.

“We thank Chambers Coaches for doing the right thing by putting Lesley's mind at rest and for supporting her independence.”

Robert Chambers, one of the owners, said: “We have changed our minds about the decision and I guess we did not handle the inquiry for her booking very well and I guess we were wrong to suggest she would have to pay any money to reserve a place for the dog. We have apologised to her for that and we have invited her to go on the coach, if she wishes, with her dog Nina and we hope she does.”

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