Pair struck off for abusing council's pool car rules
PUBLISHED: 05:30 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:54 24 November 2019
Two members of staff at a Suffolk authority were dismissed for using taxpayer-funded pool cars for their own purposes, it has been revealed.
According to Suffolk County Council data for April 2017 to June 2018, the authority investigated 113 members of staff for misuse of pool cars, 13 of whom were found to have abused the system.
Of those, two were dismissed; three received final written warnings; one received a first written warning; two had no case to answer for and one had reached a settlement agreement because of an ongoing disciplinary investigation for a separate matter.
There were three who received non-formal disciplinaries and one temporary worker who had their contract terminated.
A spokesman from Suffolk County Council said: "We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding the misuse of council resources, so where evidence has been found of this, appropriate action will be taken.
"Our employees are frequently reminded of our policy on pool cars, mileage and subsistence.
"These are regularly audited to identify any apparent misuse and allow us to investigate and take action accordingly."
According to the council rules, pool cars should not be taken after 5pm, taken on weekends or booked in the week to continue over a weekend, unless prior permission had been sought.
Another member of staff was dismissed in the summer of 2017 after a whistleblower reported the individual to have misused pool cars prior to the review.
It is not yet clear how much money the misuse cost the council, although it is understood around £2,000 was recovered.
An internal audit has taken place at the authority to ensure that it was providing value for money.
Following the investigation findings, council chiefs sent reminders to staff about pool car use and updated the internal bookings.
Those reminders included use of internal communications, information booklets in the cars and booking confirmation emails.
The service is run by the council's own company Vertas, with a report being presented to the council's audit committee next week stating that it will decide whether to carry out a similar exercise in the future to determine if it was still a problem.