Council workers hit with string of driving fines for breaking rules

COUNCIL workers have been warned to improve their driving after picking up fines for breaking a string of road rules.

The Evening News understands senior council managers have issued warnings to all staff using the local authority's lorries, vans and street cleaners.

It is thought that council workers have picked up around a dozen fines of up to 120 each so far this year.

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Offences include not wearing a seat belt, using a mobile phone while driving and parking on pavements.

One council worker is even understood to have been pulled up and fined by police for driving one of the street-sweeping vehicles along a busy pavement.

Staff in the council's services for communities department – which includes street cleaning – have picked up seven prohibition notices so far this year.

This compares to just three notices issued to the department for the whole of 2008. It is also understood there has been an increase in daily vehicle checks in recent weeks after a number of council vans were stopped by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency for not being road- worthy.

Driving groups and opposition politicians today called on council drivers to follow the same rules as ordinary road users.

Bruce Young, Lothian and Borders co-ordinator of the Association of British Drivers, said: "This doesn't surprise me, I don't go into the city centre very often but when I do you often see the council-liveried vehicles driving like yobs.

"It shows the quality of the management in the council that they send out a warning to say it is unacceptable – it is fairly obvious that this is unacceptable, what they need to do is take punitive action to cut this out."

New laws being introduced next month will see all fixed penalty notices picked up by council workers put points on the council's vehicle operator licence issued by VOSA.

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Councillor Mark McInnes, the city's Tory transport and environment spokesman, said: "It is reasonable to expect council workers to follow the same rules as ordinary road users, particularly as when they are in council vehicles, they are representing the city. The department is right to flag this up and hopefully we will see an increase in standards."

A council spokesman said: "The council has hundreds of vehicles in its fleet and safe driving practices are taken very seriously.

"We have a designated transport division who constantly monitor and advise on any law changes and also keep a close eye on the vehicles themselves.

"Last year we won a national award for parts of our training."

The council currently operates around 800 vehicles, which cover approximately four million miles a year.

City leaders have attempted to reduce the number of vehicles in its fleet in recent years through greater reliance on schemes such as the Edinburgh City Car Club.