Council deny tree-cutting bus that was only used five times cost £100,000
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
Claims that a double-decker bus, bought by the council for tree cutting, cost the authority almost £100,000 have been flatly denied.
Independent councillor Nigel Dix said he was approached by a former Caerphilly County Borough Council employee who claimed the council spent more on the tree-cutting bus than what was previously stated.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request, submitted by the Plaid Cymru group in December 2021, revealed the council had spent £25,348.14 on the purchase, modification and maintenance of the tree-cutting bus and it was only used five times.
But, the former council employee has claimed that when other costs are factored in – wages, equipment and petrol – the total amount spent is near £100,000.
Caerphilly County Borough Council has said the claims are “completely untrue”.
Following the allegations, Cllr Dix is now calling for an independent investigation into the matter – echoing previous calls made by Plaid Cymru councillor John Roberts.
Cllr Roberts had described the bus as a “scandalous waste of public money”.
Cllr Dix, who represents the Blackwood ward, said: “I asked officers how much the bus cost, and how many times it had been used – sadly, I feel I was misled and not given a true picture of the cost or how many times the bus was used.
“This led me to make my own enquiries which show that taxpayers’ money was wasted. The bus was only used on a few occasions as it was not suitable to carry out tree cutting.
“I feel that the current administration appears to have an appetite for withholding the truth. There needs to be a full and independent investigation into this matter.”
The tree-cutting bus was originally a double decker bus before it was modified.
The bus, which is no longer in operation, has since been sold by the council at auction for £2,060.
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