A POOLE cabinet portfolio holder has defended council staff after the Daily Echo reported that eight had been caught speeding in Borough of Poole vehicles.

Cllr Xena Dion’s portfolio includes transportation and environment and consumer protection, services whose staff accounted for six of the eight to receive penalty points.

The Echo reported that eight staff driving branded council vehicles were penalised for breaking the law between January 2013 and January 2014.

“Whilst not condoning any driving offence, to make a big issue over what is a very common error of judgment is to do the people concerned a total disservice,” she said.

She pointed out the council employed more than 3,000 staff and, like in other public services, many were expected to make journeys for their work.

“I am defending common sense and human behaviour,” she said.

“As councillors, most of us value the staff and the work they do.

“In today’s employment culture it is considered more appropriate and more productive for people to learn from mistakes made and endeavour to avoid making them again rather than punish and impose sanctions,” she said.

“The Echo could just as easily look at any other large public service employer and ask for the same information and I very much doubt they would find a different story.

“We are, after all, human and susceptible to making occasional mistakes.

“That is hardly a reason to attack staff who are, on the whole, providing a good and valued service,” she said.

However, she added that the Echo’s report did serve to highlight that staff needed to be “a bit more careful”.

The council took no sanctions against the drivers and has allowed them to continue driving its vehicles.

The Echo has also revealed that a driver of the borough’s “spy camera” car was caught speeding in January by the Dorset Road Safe camera van, and on another occasion the “spy camera” car was seen to jump a red traffic light.

Call for borough to review its training policies

DAVE Nichols from road safety charity Brake said: “Breaking traffic laws is dangerous and driving above the speed limit, even by a small amount, puts lives at risk.

“Speed is one of the biggest killers on roads; causing appalling suffering to families Brake supports. Everyone who drives, especially those who use their vehicles for work, should abide by speed limits and respect other road users.”

Neil Greig of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, added: “This story shows that Borough of Poole need to review their driver risk management policy and make it absolutely clear what is expected from their staff.

“Local authorities should always seek to implement best practice in driver training and fleet control. This would include informing employees about acceptable behaviour and putting in place opportunities for training or refreshing skills.

“With the proper polices in place this sort of story should not occur again.”