Warwick man felt ‘discriminated’ against after business turns away guide dog

Pictured: Martyn Parker together with his guide dog Wheeler. Martyn was refused entry to Panache Balti last week, as guide dogs are not allowed in the restaurant. NNL-180327-220924009
Pictured: Martyn Parker together with his guide dog Wheeler. Martyn was refused entry to Panache Balti last week, as guide dogs are not allowed in the restaurant. NNL-180327-220924009

A blind Warwick man was left angry and upset after claiming he was refused entry into a restaurant because he had a guide dog.

Martyn Parker, his guide dog Wheeler and Martyn’s friend Ken Otter were set to go out for a meal at Panache Balti in St Johns on March 22.

Pictured: Martyn Parker together with his guide dog Wheeler. Martyn was refused entry to Panache Balti last week, as guide dogs are not allowed in the restaurant. NNL-180327-220942009

Pictured: Martyn Parker together with his guide dog Wheeler. Martyn was refused entry to Panache Balti last week, as guide dogs are not allowed in the restaurant. NNL-180327-220942009

Ken had arrived at the restaurant first and told the staff about Martyn and Wheeler arriving.

Martyn, who works for Warwickshire County Council, said Ken was told that they would not be allowed in the restaurant because they don’t allow dogs. When Ken pointed out that they were breaking the law, the proprietor is alleged to have taken exception to their comment.

Martyn added: “My first reaction on hearing that we were being refused entry was one of disbelief, ​you don’t expect to be discriminated against in your own home town. The disbelief soon gave way to hurt and anger.

“This is 2018, an establishment should know they are not allowed to treat people like this, to be snubbed in this way was quite upsetting.”

Martyn, who has been registered as blind since 1992, has a retinal condition that means that he has no peripheral vision, no night vision and poor central vision and is also affected by bright light and glare.

Wheeler is Martyn’s first guide dog and they have been together since March 2014.

“A guide dog is there to help you do the things everyone else does,” said Martyn. “If I want to go for a curry, I should be able to, and be able to take my guide dog with me.

“Luckily, there are plenty of other restaurants in the town where Wheeler and I are welcome. We ended up having our curry in Castle Balti, where we were very well looked after.

“I am shocked and disappointed to come across this sort of thing so close to the Guide Dog Training Centre. You would think that with the number of guide dog owners in this area, traders would be more willing to comply with the law.

“I am taking the matter up with Trading Standards.

“Discrimination of this sort is in contravention of the Equality Act 2010 (the same act that cover discrimination on grounds of race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation).”

Despite being contacted numerous times by The Courier, Panache Balti did not want to provide a comment.

Graham Kensett from the Guide Dogs charity said: “Almost half of guide dog owners surveyed have experienced an access refusal in the last year. As such the organisation is campaigning so that assistance dog owners can access taxis, shops and restaurants without being refused entry, in line with their legal rights.

“Under the Equality Act, guide dog and other assistance dog owners have the right to enter the majority of services, premises and vehicles with their dog.

“The most frequent places that guide dog owners are refused access is taxis, restaurants and shops.

“The Guide Dogs greatly appreciate public support and that of businesses in reinforcing this message.”