BASILDON Council has been accused of a ’cover-up’ after almost 10,000 litres of fuel went missing from its lorry depot in four days – but civil servants failed to call police, claiming there was ’no evidence of a crime’.
The fuel shortage at the Barleylands depot, used by the council’s fleet of rubbish trucks, was alluded to in two lines of 34-page report presented to the council’s Audit and Risk Committee last week.
The report said the incident was being investigated by its internal fraud squad but did not give any further details.
Under questioning by the Yellow Advertiser, Basildon Council has since admitted 5,888 litres of white diesel and 3,800 litres of red diesel went missing between February 11 and 14 this year.
The council’s internal audit team investigated the loss but its findings have not been made public.
In a statement issued to the YA, the council said: “As a result of the investigation, tighter security measures have been put in place to address identified concerns.”
But when asked whether police were alerted, the spokesman added: “No, as there was no evidence of a theft to report.”
Independent councillor Kerry Smith sits on the council’s Audit and Risk Committee, which was presented with the 34-page Annual Internal Audit and Counter Fraud Report last Wednesday, June 28.
He said: “They should have called the police. It is a cover-up. If it hadn’t come to audit and risk I would never have known about it and nobody else would either.
“If fuel goes missing then it’s one of three things. It’s a leak and you call the fire service, somebody’s done their paperwork wrong, or it’s been stolen.
“When 10,000 litres goes missing in four days, you call the police. This is unacceptable.”
The fuel shortage was ’identified as a result of routine checks performed by depot staff back in February 2017’, the council said.
Basildon Council claimed it was unable to explain what extra measures had been put in place since the shortage was discovered, citing ’security reasons’.
It also said it was unable to state how much fuel was stored at the depot at any one time, or allow the YA to visit the depot, also for ’security reasons’.