Investigation launched against Bear Scotland after allegations of fraud

 

Transport Scotland is investigating allegations from whistleblowers that Bear Scotland has ripped off the taxpayer to the tune of millions by carrying out unnecessary highways works.

Allegations reported in The Courier include staff being asked to carry out repairs on roads that had no potholes, employees asked to cut holes more than double the depth required and workers being asked to carry out work in torrential rain so the job would have to be redone.

Former employees of Bear also said works were carried out even when the roads were due to be resurfaced shortly afterwards to create extra work.

Bear Scotland has been managing trunk roads on behalf of Transport Scotland for the last 14 years.

The Courier reports that former traffic management coordinator Sean Reilly, from Dundee, who worked for Bear for over a decade, said the alleged practices had been going on for years and were worth millions.

'They say it is job creation but it is shoddy workmanship – work that won’t last and is going to fail. That falls on the taxpayer to pay for. It is madness the stuff they were making us do, just unbelievable,' he told papers.

He was supported by fellow Dundonian Sean Toshney, who worked for BEAR for five years and won over £15,000 in an unfair dismissal claim against the firm. He has written to Transport Scotland about the allegations.

He said: 'I’m a taxpayer and there are bosses there who are bullies and are bullying people into cutting out good road. Why should we pay tax to line their pockets?'

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: 'Payments to all of our operating companies, including BEAR Scotland, are robustly and routinely audited on our behalf by the Performance Audit Group. Any allegations like this are always investigated.'

In a statement Brian Gordon, managing director for BEAR Scotland said: 'We take such allegations very seriously and welcome scrutiny. When the original issues relating to road repairs were highlighted two years ago we provided a full, transparent explanation of our procedures to Transport Scotland. Following an independent audit the issue was subsequently resolved. We are confident that the further investigations will be similarly resolved.

'We have always worked in partnership with our client Transport Scotland to deliver the best service for trunk road users in the north of Scotland and are always seeking to enhance our processes to ensure they are as effective as possible and deliver the best value.'

 
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