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Report states 37 Highland Council vehicles were not insured – but local authority insists that is incorrect

By Staff Reporter

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AN audit report published by Highland Council showed almost four out of 10 vehicles owned or hired by the local authority could be uninsured.

But after highlighting the matter in today's Inverness Courier, the local authority insists the audit report is wrong and all its vehicles are insured.

Members of the local authority’s audit and scrutiny committee were presented with the report on insurance arrangements yesterday which included details of checks carried out on a sample of 97 vehicles.

It found that 37 of them were not recorded properly on the national Motor Insurance Database and stated this meant they were not insured.

The same report detailed how one hire vehicle was uninsured for 948 days.

Failure to comply with regulations leaves the council open to a fine of up to £5000 plus a further fine of £2000 per vehicle per day according to the report, suggesting the council could have been liable for a fine of more than £1.8 million for this one vehicle alone.

Councillors at yesterday’s meeting were outraged at the findings. Margaret Paterson said: “Vehicles uninsured – that just cannot continue. That is absolutely against the law.”

Colleague Angela Maclean said: “I was concerned that of the 97 vehicles that were checked, 37 were not on the database.

“I think this is the personal responsibility of every one of our employees that gets into a vehicle.”

This afternoon, a spokesman for the council said: “All vehicles in the Highland Council’s fleet of 1150 are insured under the Highland Council’s insurance. No vehicle is uninsured, nor was at any stage.

“As part of Highland Council’s regular review and scrutiny of internal processes, we found some vehicles had not been listed on the Motor Insurance Database (MID), which is an EU requirement. However, it is important to note that this does not invalidate existing vehicle insurance.

“Since the review all vehicles have been checked and all vehicles are listed in the Motor Insurance Database.

“We are not aware of any fines received in relation to this. The review did exactly what it was set up to achieve and highlighted areas for improvement in administration processes. It is important to highlight, however, that Highland Council cannot be fined retrospectively. Vehicles that were previously not on the MID are now all listed.”

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