Huntingdon cabbie fined �1,500 for smoking in taxi

A HUNTINGDON taxi driver has been fined more than �1,500 for smoking in his cab.

A HUNTINGDON taxi driver has been fined more than �1,500 for smoking in his cab.

In the first prosecution of its kind since the smoking ban was introduced, Huntingdonshire District Council brought criminal proceedings against cabbie Simon Meeke.

Meeke, who works for well-known local firm Steve’s Taxis, pleaded guilty to smoking in a smoke-free vehicle at Huntingdon Magistrates Court on Wednesday, August 11.

The court heard how Meeke, of Bliss Close, was seen by an environmental health officer on January 7 smoking in his vehicle outside the HDC’s Pathfinder House headquarters in St Mary’s Street, Huntingdon. He was approached by the officer, who asked him to put out his cigarette. He was also asked to provide his name and address, which he refused to do.

Having obtained Meeke’s details from his employers, the council served him with a fixed penalty notice, which he failed to pay within the specified time despite being given an extension.

During the court hearing, Vicki Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said: “Simon Meeke was seen smoking in his taxi, in contravention of the Health Act 2006, whilst parked outside the council’s offices. He was approached by an environmental health officer and asked for his name and address, which he failed to provide.”

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Miss Stevens added that he had already been given written warnings after smoking in his taxi on a previous occasion.

As well as pleading guilty to smoking in a smoke-free vehicle, Meeke pleaded guilty to obstruction for failing to provide his name and address. He was fined a total of �1,524.62, comprising �150 for each offence and the council’s costs.

Councillor Andrew Hansard, whose executive responsibilities include environmental health, said: “The council is committed to protecting the health of the local community and persistent and flagrant breaches of public health legislation will not be tolerated. By smoking in his taxi, Mr Meeke chose not only to break the law but denied his customers their rights to travel in a smoke-free vehicle. Unfortunately, in this case, earlier written warnings did not have the desired effect and his refusal to pay a fixed penalty notice meant that the council had no choice other than to take the matter before the court.”

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