Centre’s national role highlighted

Ian Duncan and Alex Johnstone are pictured watching trainer Gail Simpson put guide dog Sarge through his paces.
Ian Duncan and Alex Johnstone are pictured watching trainer Gail Simpson put guide dog Sarge through his paces.

The national important role played by the Guide Dog Scotland training centre in Forfar was underlined during a fact-finding visit on Friday

Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan and Alex Johnstone MSP visited the centre to highlight a recent study into access rights for guide dog users across the EU.

The study, commissioned by Dr Duncan, found a wide variation in the access rights of guide dog users across the EU, depending on where they live. With more than 2.5 million blind people in the EU, eight member states lack sufficient legislation regarding the access rights of guide dogs, with some having no laws on the issue at all. The Equality Act 2010, however, has helped ensure guide dog users in UK have some of the best legal protections across Europe

Dr Duncan said: “I am pleased that the UK emerges from this study well, but it is clear that more can be done to improve access for guide dog users. In particular, the variation in levels of support for our blind citizens across the European Union is truly shocking and must be dealt with.

“It was great to be able to witness first hand the hard work that goes into the training of each and every guide dog in Scotland. The centre in Forfar is a real asset to the area, but also makes an immeasurable contribution to the lives of blind and partially sighted people across the country.”

Mr Johnstone praised the centre’s work, saying that the visit emphasised the “incredible aid” a guide dog can be.

He said: “I hope this research will encourage other countries to up their game when it comes to access rights, and ensure the UK continues to strive to make life easier for guide dog users.”