A COUNTY Councillor has questioned the sale of a 50-year-old ‘snow blower’ used to clear rural roads of snow - and which his grandfather used to drive.

Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth said the vehicle should by rights have been auctioned off for sale.

Instead the snow blower, which the council says is no longer mechanically safe to drive, is to be returned to its manufacturer which intends to refurbish it and put it on show at its head office.

The council will receive £2,500 from the manufacturer, Schmidt, by way of settlement, which will also pay the costs to transport the vehicle.

Coun Shuttleworth, who represents Weardale, said when he previously enquired about buying one of the council’s fleet of cars he was told it had to go to auction, despite him agreeing the price.

He said: “I should have the right to buy this equipment as should anyone else – they might have offered £3,000 – instead a deal was done behind closed doors. It is not open and transparent.

“The council seems to have altered the rules and they don’t have the authority to do that.”

Oliver Sherratt, Durham County Council’s head of direct services, said it had explained to Coun Shuttleworth that the snow blower was beyond repair as there were no longer any replacement parts.

He said: “As this item of plant no longer worked, it was not appropriate to send it to auction.

"Rather than dispose of it at scrap value – where income to the council would have been minimal – a better price and use was obtained by selling back to the manufacturer for display in their museum where apprentices could also work on its renovation.

“This sale, for the best possible price, had already been agreed by the time we were approached by County Coun Shuttleworth.”