A DRONE which has cost a council more than £35,000 has not been used for an operation once.

West Sussex County Council bought it in February last year for £20,850 with the intention of surveying buildings, claiming it was one of the first authorities in the country to do so.

It also planned to lend it to firefighters to scout out countryside blazes and use its thermal camera at night to respond to fires more quickly.

At the time, the then council leader Louise Goldsmith said investing in the drone would “save lives”.

But a council spokeswoman admitted it had not been used since it was bought.

“We acknowledge there has been a delay in using the drone,” she said.

“We have faced a number of difficulties mainly around licensing and, as a result, we are reviewing its future use.”

Opposition leader Councillor Michael Jones called the drone “an expensive prop for a publicity stunt”.

He said: “All that money spent and it hasn’t even been used once.

“It is a staggering waste of money, at a time the county council is facing massive financial pressures and is surely another indication of how this Tory council has completely lost its way.

“It now looks almost like it was a gimmick to promote the leadership of the council.

“Clearly no practical benefit has come from it.

“That makes it one hell of an expensive prop for a publicity stunt.”

Fifteen members of West Sussex Fire and Rescue have been trained to fly the drone, costing the council £12,353. An additional £2,753 was spent on insurance, a grand total of £35,956.