SMOKING behind the wheel is the public's biggest gripe against East Ayrshire's taxi drivers.

New figures have revealed that smoking has accounted for 22 complaints lodged by members of the public with East Ayrshire Council about the area's taxi and private hire drivers over the last five years.

Abuse and/or rudeness towards the public accounted for the second highest number of complaints, followed by dangerous driving.

The figures were revealed by the council following a freedom of information request.

Since March 2006 it has been illegal to smoke in public places in Scotland which are 'wholly or substantially enclosed', including most workplaces, as well as in vehicles used for business purposes, including vans, lorries, buses, trains, ferries and taxis.

But East Ayrshire Council says that none of the complaints made against the area's taxi drivers since 2018, about smoking or any other form of poor behaviour, resulted in the driver being referred to the authority's licensing panel - the body, made up of elected councillors, that has the power to grant and to take away private hire driver licences.

And the authority says it doesn't hold any information on whether any private hire driver in the area has been dismissed as a result of a complaint being made against them.

READ MORE: East Ayrshire taxi fares revealed

A total of 71 complaints, for a variety of reasons, have been lodged with the council about the behaviour of East Ayrshire's taxi drivers since 2018.

The 22 smoking complaints comprise nearly 31 per cent of the total.

Seventeen complaints of poor behaviour and/or rudeness towards the public were made against the cabbies during the five-year timeframe.


Other complaints included:

  • Abusive Behaviour – 4
  • Dangerous driving – 11
  • Overcharging – 8
  • Refused fares – 4
  • Unlicensed vehicles – 1
  • Others (PHC touting for fares) – 4

An East Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: "East Ayrshire Council can confirm in the first instance, that as licensing authority, it carries out the administrative process of the licensing of taxi and private hire car drivers, and therefore does not hold information on whether a driver has been dismissed as a result of a complaint.

"The council investigates any licensing complaints and would generally offer either guidance or a warning to a licence holder and can also, if appropriate, refer a licence holder to the Licensing Panel for consideration of suspension of a licence.

"The council can further confirm that none of the complaints listed in the FOI response resulted in a licence holder being referred to the Licensing Panel."