Dundee’s long-delayed taxi marshal scheme will launch on Friday.
The city council announced in March last year that taxi marshals would be introduced to help prevent the illegal activities of some Dundee cabbies.
Problems outside the G Casino and the nearby rank at Westport/Hawkhill had been described as a “serious public safety” issue.
Some taxi drivers were ignoring queues and stopping on zig-zag lines at the pedestrian crossing to pick up passengers coming from the casino.
Each of Dundee’s 1,300 taxi drivers were asked to pay £30 towards the scheme, with payment necessary to renew their licences.
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is investigating why it took Dundee City Council so long to get the scheme started after collecting payment.
The council said it had struggled to find staff to fill the marshal positions.
Two marshals will be based at the Hawkhill/Brown Street rank next to the G Casino on Friday and Saturday nights.
They will man the rank between 11pm and 4am and will have an increased presence over the busy festive period.
The announcement has split the city’s taxi trade, with some in favour of the scheme and others furiously against it.
Graeme Stephen, chairman of Dundee Taxi Drivers’ Association, is an advocate for the project.
He told The Courier: “Taxis are stopping everywhere. The decision to bring in marshals has taken a while, but the £30 payment is for three years and works out at costing 20p a week.
“That’s nothing if it means we can get somewhere that taxis don’t cause problems.
“It’s not fair for people to use taxis that aren’t stopping at the official rank and it’s causing a lot of animosity.”
Taxi driver and critic of the scheme Gregor Ross, however, insisted that the timing of the council’s announcement was dubious.
He said: “As Dundee City Council has delayed this project without any valid excuse and the fact that drivers like myself were forced to pay for a service over 18 months ago, I therefore have reason to believe that this service is only to commence due to the fact that the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman is scrutinising the city council.”
Taxi drivers who are seen dropping passengers off or waiting at the front door of the casino, dropping passengers on the roundabout or jumping queues could have their licences suspended.
Licensing committee convener Stewart Hunter said: “Our priority and sole duty is public safety.
“We as a committee have previously agreed that the taxi marshal scheme will bring great benefits to people on a night out in the city, and the night time economy, as well as drivers and operators of taxis.”