PUBLIC SECT0R: Guide dog body in push for a fireworks bill

Guide Dogs for the Blind is launching a lobbying push this week calling for tough new laws restricting the use of fireworks.

Matt Grainger, the charity's public affairs manager, said the move comes as an increasing number of dogs have to retire early, suffering from fireworks-related trauma. Guide dogs cost an average of £35,000 each over a lifetime.

The charity wants tougher guidelines for those seeking licences to sell fireworks and legal restrictions on the sale of fireworks outside of the build up to the 5 November celebrations.

It also wants stricter controls on firework show organisers.

MPs are being urged to put forward stronger legislation in the form of a private member's bill, despite the failure of two previous attempts to do this over the last five years. Private member's bills rarely find parliamentary time to eventually become law.

This latest lobbying push follows its October campaign to increase access to public transport for disabled people. Latest research by the charity indicates that 72 per cent of blind people who frequently use bus services experience problems.

This annual access campaign, called 'Access for all', looks set to claim legal success this week when a loophole allowing minicab drivers to opt out of disability discrimination laws is closed.

The introduction of the Private Hire Vehicles (Carriage of Guide Dogs) Bill, which makes it illegal for the first time for minicab drivers to turn away a blind customer due to their disability, is set to pass through its final stage in the House of Lords today (1 November).

This new law came about after Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard endorsed the campaign and introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill in the Commons. While such bills rarely become legislation, Gerrard's Bill enjoyed cross-party support and progressed.

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