Council drone has not flown once in year-and-a-half since purchase

A drone bought for more than £20,000 by West Sussex County Council has not been flown a single time operationally since being purchased.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 3:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th October 2019, 4:38 pm
Outgoing county council leader Louise Goldsmith pictured with the drone back in February 2018

Back in February 2018 the authority described how it had become one of the first councils in the country to invest in a drone to benefit its work.

It claimed the drone would be used by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service as well as by council staff.

It was envisaged the equipment could be used to scout out locations such as heath fires, with an aerial perspective helping to co-ordinate resources on the ground, while thermal imaging could assist at night.

There were also plans to use the drone for surveying buildings and potentially use in other community work.

However the county council has confirmed the drone has ‘not flown operationally for either for the county council or the fire and rescue service’.

The drone cost £20,850, with £12,353 spent on training and £2,753 on insurance. In total this comes to £35,956.

The information was revealed in response to a written question submitted by Labour councillor Michael Jones.

He said: “My first reaction was one of horror. It’s a large amount of money spent for something that was highly unnecessary.

“The council is facing massive financial pressures and it seems to have been a very unwise decision and perhaps is another indication of how this Tory council has lost its way.

“It looks almost like it was a gimmick to promote the leadership of the council. Clearly no practical benefit has come from it.”

The county council revealed that 15 fire and rescue service personnel had been trained to fly the drone, with initial training consisting of a six-day course.