Illegal driver fears are revealed at County Hall

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Uninsured drivers could be getting behind the wheel of council vehicles because bosses have failed to check their licences, a report has revealed.

Lancashire County Council has failed to carry out regular checks that drivers’ licences are valid which means bosses may be unaware of employees’ driving convictions, which could invalidate insurance.

A review of the council’s ‘management of vehicle assets’ which includes around 1,000 fleet vehicles and a budget of £6.5m, gave it the second lowest possible rating.

The internal audit is critical of managers’ failure to check workers in many departments to ensure their licences are valid.

It said: “There are no regular checks that drivers’ licences are valid within any of the directorates, although drivers’ licences within Lancashire County Commercial Group’s (LCCG) Travelcare and Highways service are checked annually.

“The council may therefore be unaware of any employees’ driving-related convictions or changes in driving entitlements which affect their ability to drive vehicles owned or hired by the council, or could invalidate the council’s insurance cover.

“Additionally, the council’s guidance is not sufficiently clear that drivers using their own vehicles should produce their driving licence annually or when their vehicle or insurance changes, and this is not done.”

An internal audit has also revealed evidence many of the council’s hired or fleet vehicles had not been put on the insurance database within a ‘14-day period’ which left the risk of people using uninsured vehicles.

Today road campaign charity Brake told the Evening Post the council needs to mend its ways. Spokesman Martin Howard said: “Brake is urging the council to introduce a comprehensive fleet safety policy to ensure that all drivers have valid driving licences and insurance, in order to ensure the safety of their staff, and the safety of other road users.”

The report which has been considered by the council’s audit committee found regular mileage checks were not carried out to identify ‘inappropriate or personal usage.’

Phil Halsall, council chief executive, said: “Lancashire County Council has a fleet of vehicles, the vast majority of which are commercial types used for activities, such as tar spraying, gritting, community travel and our mobile library service.

“We have measures in place to ensure that this fleet, and any vehicles we have to hire, are managed and run safely. However, we are always looking to improve our operations as a council and we will look closely at the points raised in the report.”