Council’s Van Controversy Continues

Eoghan Dalton Reports
MORE light is expected to be shed in the coming weeks on the ongoing controversy around a tender for vehicles purchased by Waterford City & County Council.

€1.4 million euro was spent on over sixty vans without authorisation from senior Council management. A document holding information relevant to the tender process is expected to be produced at the Audit Committee’s meeting later this week; Council representatives on the committee will then report back to fellow members at the May Plenary meeting.

One of the committee’s members, Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF), told Councillors at the March Plenary that it would be a “worst case scenario” for it not to be not to be produced at this month’s meeting, to be held this Thursday April 5.

Appealing for transparency at the March sitting, Cllr Declan Clune (SF) said it looked like the council had overpaid for the new fleet of vehicles. He said:

“Just judging by the history of the vans and checking their spec they all seem to have automatic transmission, which for example is a €2,500 extra. Even with the extra transmission it seems we paid over the retail for these vans.”

WCCC Director of Services Fergus Galvin disputed that the body overpaid, explaining how the local authority also had to cover maintenance costs for the vehicles.

“The tender was for the lease, hire and maintenance of the vans over a 60 month period. If you were to take the overall value of the contract versus the retail price of the vans it will look as though it’s above the retail price. But approximately one third of the value of the contract is in respect of the maintenance of the vehicles, tyre replacement, management systems and the cost of sending the vans for their annual CVRT is included in the tender…It’s a very comprehensive overall supply maintenance and management package of which the purchase price or value of the vans represents only one element of it.

Cllr Clune and Cllr Joe Conway (Ind) queried whether WCCC had been presented with any of the previous audits.
“As far as I’m aware the audit committee has presented a report each year on its activities since the merger [in 2014],” Head of Finance John Murphy told the chamber.
Cllr Conway and others continued to question this before business moved onto the next item on the meeting’s agenda. However in the minutes for 2017’s February Plenary meeting, it shows the Local Government Auditor’s Report 2015 was “noted” and possibly passed without discussion.

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