Taxpayers’ £14k bill af­ter cops put the wrong fuel in ve­hi­cles

TV star claims coun­try es­tate plan would ruin an­cient wood­land

North Wales Weekly News - - WRITTEN BY YOU - BY JEZ HEM­MING BY MARI JONES

CARE­LESS cops who put the wrong fuel into po­lice ve­hi­cles have cost North Wales taxpayers nearly £14,000.

Fig­ures ob­tained un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act shows bungling North Wales Po­lice of­fi­cers have re­fu­elled ve­hi­cles in­cor­rectly on more than 75 oc­ca­sions since 2009.

The mishaps have led to a whop­ping bill of £13,962.80 – all of which is public money used for re­pair work in­clud­ing flush­ing out the wrong fuel.

De­spite the force fit­ting the ma­jor­ity of its fleet with a bright yel­low flap that says “diesel” on the filler cap since 2006, bob­bies have con­tin­ued to make the re­fu­elling er­ror.

A North Wales Po­lice spokesman said: “Although it is un­for­tu­nate that any mis­takes are made, there are rel­a­tively few in­ci­dents. In 2014 there were eight such in­ci­dents out of a to­tal 34,014 fuel trans­ac­tions.”

Jonathan Is­aby, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Taxpayers’ Al­liance, says the public de­serve bet­ter.

He said: “The author­i­ties sim­ply can­not af­ford to waste taxpayers’ money on these costly mis­takes, par­tic­u­larly at a time when col­leagues within the force are fac­ing pay freezes or worse.

“The author­i­ties must pull their socks up, taxpayers de­serve bet­ter.”

The most re­cent er­rors hap­pened within the space of two days – on July 22 and 24 this year – with re­pair bills to­talling £424.

In 2009 there were a to­tal of 18 re­fu­elling er­rors which cost the tax­payer £4,065.49. The big­gest re­pair bill that year was £1,477 – the largest over the seven year pe­riod –while the low­est was £60.

There was a drop in in­ci­dents dur­ing 2010 with 11 er­rors lead­ing to a £1,695.97 bill, while in 2011 there were 12 at a to­tal cost of £2,468.78.

In 2012 there were 16 in­ci­dents re­sult­ing in a £2,355.95 bill, but 2013 saw a drop with nine at a cost of £1,606.53.

ATV star has gone head to head with bosses at a coun­try es­tate over an an­cient area of wood­land.

The Bod­nant Es­tate has lodged a plan­ning bid to im­prove the ac­cess route into Coed Ty­d­dyn Iolyn on Ffordd Mae­nan, Eglwys­bach,

The firm says the plans will make it eas­ier for work­ers to en­ter the land and carry out main­te­nance on the wood­land and its tracks.

But Sal­vage Hun­ters star Drew Pritchard has ac­cused them of try­ing to open a “log­ging op­er­a­tion” on the site and says the scheme will “de­stroy” an an­cient wood­land if it is given the green light.

An­tiques ex­pert Drew, who lives on Ffordd Mae­nan, said: “This stun­ning wood­land hasn’t been touched, and Bod­nant want to turn it into a log­ging op­er­a­tion.

“What they should be do­ing is pro­tect­ing it.

“There are bats in there and badgers, it’s an amaz­ing habi­tat for wildlife.

“A lot of el­derly peo­ple live on the road, and I can’t see them be­ing able to deal with big trucks on the nar­row lane.”

In the pro­gramme Sal­vage Hun­ters, one of the most highly rated pro­grammes on the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, cam­eras fol­low dec­o­ra­tive an­tiques dealer Drew as he scours the coun­try in search of some weird and won­der­ful ob­jects.

Drew added: “I’ve writ­ten a strongly worded let­ter of ob­jec­tion, and I hope Conwy’s plan­ning com­mit­tee will turn the ap­pli­ca­tion down.

“If it was given the go ahead I be­lieve it would be an act of van­dal­ism against a his­toric Welsh wood.”

Six letters of ob­jec­tion have so far been lodged against the ap­pli­ca­tion with com­plaints re­lat­ing to con­cerns about flood­ing, road safety and the ad­verse af­fects the scheme could have on lo­cal tourism.

In one let­ter, res­i­dent Sam Web­ber writes: “The pro­posal is to “al­ter and im­prove the ex­ist­ing ac­cess to the main road”. I have lived on Ffordd Mae­nan all my life and never in my life­time has there been any ac­cess to Coed Ty­d­dyn Iolyn at the stated lo­ca­tion.”

But Bod­nant’s Es­tate man­ager Stephen Dixon said the work is needed to pro­tect the wood for the next 100 years.

He added: “This work will not cre­ate a blot on the land­scape, it will clean up the wood­land and pro­tect it for the next 100 years.

“There are many col­lapsed trees in there that need to be taken away, once they are gone the fauna will grow back.

“It’s a re­gen­er­a­tion pro­gramme, not a mon­ey­mak­ing one we’ll prob­a­bly break about even.

“Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales don’t have a prob­lem with the ap­pli­ca­tion and I doubt this would be the case if we were set­ting out to de­stroy the wood­land.

“A wildlife sur­vey is be­ing car­ried out at present. If we are given plan­ning then over a five year pe­riod we’ll prob­a­bly do the work in five fort­nightly stretches, which shouldn’t in­con­ve­nience the lo­cal res­i­dents too much.”

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