120 council crashes cost �25k

More than 120 crashes involving council vehicles cost the taxpayer almost �25,000 last year.

The figures, a result of a freedom of information request, show 122 smashes when council drivers were behind the wheel racked up a bill of �23,293 in 2011.

The council has around 200 vehicles in service, and around 75 of the crashes involved the council vehicle hitting something – including one repair cost of �1,800 when a council transit van reversed into a skip.

Other costly collisions include �1,200 when an accessible transport bus hit a metal post, �1,000 when another reversed into a barrier and �680 for a people carrier backing into a parking pay and display machine.

Nature also provided some expensive obstacles for the council drivers. A minibus reversed into a tree costing �200, another caught the vehicles step on a boulder and a transport bus was caught on logs in a wood.

Cyclists and motorbike riders were also in collision with council vehicles, while on one occasion, a transit van swerved to avoid a bike and crashed into another vehicle.

Caroline Russell, an Islington Green Party candidate for the London Assembly, said: “Drivers on council business need to stick to the speed limit.

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“We had a speed gun out at Drayton Park the other day and we clocked a council vehicle going over the limit.

“Council drivers should feel they are ambassadors and drive safely. These figures seem like a lot of small bits of damage that add up.

“If drivers need extra training, money is better spent on that than repairs.”

People had damaged council transport 17 times, including three attempted break-ins, costing almost �3,500.

Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for the environment, said: “We have kept down costs of running vehicles, including very good accident management procedures.

“With 1,000 drivers an average of �23 a year per driver is extremely low. I am sure most people realise a scratch can cost hundreds of pounds.

“We will ensure accident damage is kept to a minimum so we can focus scarce funds of making Islington fair.”