By Oliver Hall
A road safety assistant is facing disciplinary action after claiming he was forced to drive a council van with unsafe tyres.
Francis Azopardi became so anxious about the state of the tyres on the Safer Roads initiative van, which is emblazoned with the Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police logos, that he was signed off work with stress.
Mr Azopardi said: “I’m responsible for public safety and yet I had to drive a vehicle that in my opinion was unsafe.
“Three of the tyres were so bald they would be dangerous if I had to stop suddenly, particularly in wet weather. It could have caused a terrible accident and even the death of other people on the road.
“I kept complaining to my bosses but they wouldn’t listen. They even started shouting at me.”
On Friday, Francis drove the pool van to a garage for an independent check, where staff agreed three tyres appeared to be very close to the legal limit and definitely in need of changing.
A spokesman for the trading standards-approved garage said: “We examined the tyres carefully and we stick by our opinion.”
Francis took the van to the council’s own vehicle depot at Bleak Hall, where he says staff confirmed the tread was 1.8mm, well below the council regulation 2.5mm.
He applied for it to be taken off the road until replacements were fitted, then returned to the office – only to face what he describes as a ‘barrage of shouting’.
He added: “They said there was nothing wrong with the tyres, and I would have to go through disciplinary proceedings.
“I am upset, of course, but in terms of public safety I do not regret what I did at all.”
A council spokesman insisted: “The tread level was found to be 2.5mm.”
But on Tuesday the van was photographed by the local paper, the Citizen, and it was sporting three new tyres.