A taxi driver has been banned from working on all his firm’s council contracts after he was caught smoking in his cab for the third time.
Stephen Devine admits he shouldn’t have lit up in his cab along Green Leach Lane, Haresfinch, on January 16 this year - but argues he was on a break at the time and was 45 minutes from his next pick-up.
The father-of-three, who works for Cable Cars, claims the ban has effectively put him out of a job because the majority of his firm’s work is council contracts.
He said: “I know it’s wrong to smoke in a private hire vehicle but I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. It feels like the council are trying to send a message out. I think that’s unfair.
“I’ve never smoked in my cab when I’ve had a passenger in my vehicle and I was at least 45 minutes away from my next job when I got caught.”
Mr Devine, 39, of Windlehurst, has now had his private hire badge suspended and expects it to be revoked at a licensing hearing in May.
His boss at Cable Cars, based on Waterloo Street, received a £50 fine.
A Town Hall spokeswoman said: “As part of our contract with the company, drivers are not allowed to smoke in the cab before, during or after their journeys.
“This was the third time Mr Devine had been caught and his next job was to pick up special needs children.
“Cable Cars still has its contract with the council - but we have asked for Mr Devine to be removed from council jobs such as school runs.”
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