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Council / Councillor ‘horrified’ after audit finds some SIC drivers were without valid licence or insurance

Drivers not entering their PIN number in tracked vehicles is also highlighted

CHAIRMAN of Shetland Islands Council’s audit committee Allison Duncan has said he was “quite horrified” to learn that some local authority employees registered to drive council vehicles had expired licences or insurance applications.

An internal audit report presented to the committee on Tuesday showed that there was also a “significant number” of instances where staff were not entering their unique PIN number into vehicles with tracking devices installed.

Over 300,000 miles were driven between January and August without drivers entering a PIN.

Councillor Duncan said he was “quite horrified, to put it mildly”, to see the report.

“I just cannot understand why this was not picked up much earlier,” the Shetland South councillor said in reference to the expired licences and insurance.

Duncan said he was thankful there were no accidents during this time.

Councillor Allison Duncan. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

Referring to the bin lorry accident in Glasgow in 2014 in which six people were killed, internal auditor Duncan Black said there could be “pretty serious reputational damage” for the council if there had been any accidents where the driver was not licensed or insured.

During the internal audit in July, 45 drivers with active PIN numbers were chosen as part of a test sample.

It transpired that 13 of these had expired insurance applications, while three had an expired photo card driving licence.

Of these 16 employees at least three were identified as having regularly driven a council vehicle between January and August this year.

The audit report also said there was a “significant” issue of non-compliance when it came to drivers not entering their PIN in tracked vehicles.

Between January and August over 300,000 miles were travelled on more than 50,000 occasions without a PIN being entered.

The tracking system allows vehicles to be driven without a PIN, but there will be a continuous ‘beeping’ sound until the driver enters the number.

“There is a risk that the council has drivers operating fleet vehicles without the required licence and insurance clearance, therefore this may invalidate the council’s vehicle insurance,” the audit report concluded.

The council has now drawn up a plans of “corrective actions” to be implemented over the next 12 months, but councillor Robbie McGregor called for the issue to be dealt with more quickly.

Black said he was happy to speak to SIC officers and report back before the 12 months are up, adding “there’s a broad piece of work they want to undertake”.

More generally the audit report drew a more positive picture of the council’s fleet management procedures.

“We are pleased to report that the main controls are in place to manage the council’s fleet of vehicles,” the report said.

The vehicle’s team is responsible for maintaining a fleet of around 330 vehicles.