A DOUBLE decker bus purchased by a council to cut tree branches was sold at a loss of more than £20,000 after it was hardly used. 

Council chiefs had the roof of the second hand bus removed so maintenance staff could use it as a “cost-effective” high level, safe working platform to cut and prune over-hanging branches on bus routes. 

But the bus, which Caerphilly Borough Council, had spent more than £25,000 on buying, adapting and repairing has now been revealed to have been sold for just for £2,060 plus VAT after it was deemed to be “beyond economic repair”. 

The sale of the bus has been confirmed in a Freedom of Information request to Plaid Cymru councillor John Roberts. 

The information provided also showed the bus had been used for just five days and did less than 200 miles between between June 2018 and November 2019. 

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Cllr Roberts, who represents the Aber Valley ward, said the council should investigate how the decision to buy the bus was made. 

He said: “In terms of the overall council budget this may seem like small beer, but the purchase of this bus represents a scandalous waste of public money. 

“What we have here is more than £25,000 spent on buying and converting this bus. It was sold for less than one-tenth of its cost before auctioneer’s fees and what is even worse is that it was hardly ever used. There is also no evidence about whether or not an engineer’s report was commissioned before purchase. 

“This might have been bought with all good intentions but public money is tight and the last thing we want is for it to be thrown away.” 

The response to the Freedom of Information request, that was submitted in September, confirmed the bus has been sold at auction, with a £459.50 (plus VAT) fee paid to the auctioneers, and that the recorded mileage in June 2018 was 54,267 and in November 2019 it was 54,425 

Caerphilly Borough Council spokesperson said: "Advice was sought at the time of the purchase from the vehicle maintenance manager, the vehicle was used on a number of occasions during the tree cutting season and it was beyond economical repair at the time of the disposal.

"Technology has since advanced and we are exploring new and more sustainable methods for the future."

A 2015 report, to the council’s regeneration and environment and scrutiny committee, included details of the cabinet’s explanation for purchasing the bus. 

The council announced in December 2017 it had bought and modified a double decker bus for use by its tree maintenance teams. 

The report said: “(The) cabinet member and officers confirmed that the Tree Bus had been purchased second-hand at a reasonable cost”.  

The report, which also said the council envisaged offering the bus to other councils, also stated: “Officers outlined the benefits of the Tree Bus in comparison to other maintenance vehicles (such as cherry picker elevated work platforms), explaining that it will be safer and more stable owing to the size of the working platform and its safety rails, and will be easier to operate from a traffic management perspective.” 

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