Report fuels control calls

Councillor Jim Muirhead
Councillor Jim Muirhead

AN INTERNAL council report has shed some light on allegations of fuel fraud by employees.

As reported in the Advertiser last month, the theft of red diesel from council depots and private use of fuel cards is currently subject to an ongoing internal investigation at Midlothian Council and a police investigation.

However, a report into fuel management by the risk and audit manager was put before the audit committee last week, with some damming evidence.

It uncovered a “weak system of internal control for Shell fuel cards”, and that three employee fuel depot PIN numbers were identified as being used after those employees had left the council.

It also uncovered some evidence of PIN sharing.

The report goes on to state that “at least one” member of staff had used Shell fuel cards to fill their own private vehicle. The report points out that signed receipts for these transactions were not sent to Midlothian Council and that the employee’s identity was not checked.

Colin Beattie (SNP) MSP for Midlothian North blamed the previous council administration for the fraud.

He said: “I am shocked at this further evidence of incompetence on the part of the previous Labour administration.

“This apparent fraud was clearly caused yet again by the weak controls which Labour have repeatedly presided over in this council.

“This is our money which has been siphoned off and we should all be angry that during this time of public financial hardship such a situation could be allowed to arise.”

In response, Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said: “The whole point of the audit is to examine particular areas that we may have concerns about and that was an area we wanted to look at and there are issues that need to be dealt with and that is what we are doing.

“I think we are going to get a whole string of allegations from Colin Beattie about how everything is our fault.

“This is our opportunity to improve the situation, it’s unfortunate that everything we identify as that, people jump on the bandwagon and blame someone for it.”

Read more about this story in the Midlothian Advertiser, out now.