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Police tarmac probe “ongoing”

 
Created on 12/01/2022 @ 10:42

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter 

A police investigation into allegations of ‘irregularities’ in a Powys highways team is still ongoing, more than a year after the issues were first reported.

Allegations of misconduct were referred to Powys County Council in the autumn of 2020.

Former cabinet member, Cllr Iain McIntosh, has used the council’s questions at any time process to ask for an update on the investigation from the cabinet member responsible for highways, Cllr Heulwen Hulme.

This means Cllr Hulme should reply to the questions on Friday, January 21.

Cllr McIntosh explained that reports of the allegations which are to do with road surfacing operations had emerged in the media last year.

He pointed out that according to minutes published by Llangynog community council in the north of Powys, the allegations were discussed at their meetings in July and September 2020.

These concerns were then brought to the authority’s attention by the local county councillor, Cllr Bryn Davies, who was told they would be investigated.

Cllr McIntosh asks five questions:

  • How much tarmac has gone missing in both weight and monetary value?
  • Over what period of time has tarmac been going missing from this authority?
  • The findings of Dyfed Powys Police and this authority?
  • The number of council staff involved.
  • Are investigations  by the authority and Dyfed Powys Police now complete?

Cllr McIntosh added: “It has also been suggested to me that at least four members of council staff, who were found to be involved with the missing tarmac, were suspended pending investigations by the authority and Dyfed Powys Police.”

He believes they were offered their jobs back “before investigations were complete”.

Cllr McIntosh said: “Can the portfolio holder confirm if this is accurate and if so, why members of staff were reinstated during ongoing investigations and, by whom?”

A spokesman for Powys County Council said: “We can confirm that a response will be issued in the coming days.”

A spokesperson for Dyfed Powys-Police confirmed: “The investigation is ongoing.”

Last July at a council meeting, Powys County Council Chief Executive, Dr Caroline Turner, confirmed that the authority was working with the police on this issue and stated that a “zero tolerance approach to fraud and theft is being taken”.

Also, last summer, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was submitted to Audit Wales, which examines how public bodies manage and spend public money, asking if it knew of the issues.

An initial reply was given which has now been referred for a further review.

A spokesperson for Audit Wales said: “We are aware of the matter which has been referred to the police by the council, who have confirmed that the police investigations were on-going.

“Regular updates are obtained at our liaison meetings, the next of which is due to take place later this month.

“We can confirm we are currently reviewing a FOI request, which is being dealt with by Audit Wales’ head of law and ethics, Martin Peters.”


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