Mayor’s car costs over £35,000

MORE than £35,000 of taxpayers’ money is being spent every year on chauffeuring Scarborough’s mayor to and from engagements.

The cash has been paid to a private company since 2008, when the mayoral car service was outsourced to save money and Scarborough Council’s Jaguar car was sold.

Cllr Lucy Haycock, who represents the Seamer ward and served as mayor between 2001 and 2002, said yesterday that the annual £35,880 cost was justified.

She said: “I think if you have a civic couple, it has to be done in style. Mayoralty is something to be treasured.

“There is a limit to how much you can take away and still be a representation of the borough. You have got to get the balance right.”

In October, a questionnaire was posted by the council to 6,000 households, asking which services members of the public would like to see cut.

The highest proportion by far - more than 92 per cent - urged the council to find savings in the mayoral and civic budget.

Working practices have been reviewed and staffing has been decreased within the mayor’s office, but the mayoral car is not up for review.

Cllr Haycock said she believes more effective savings could be made in other areas.

“We are spending too much on senior council officials, consultants and expensive surveys which tell us things we already know,” she added.

“I think to cut down on civic presentation would be a mistake. They may be able to make savings on catering but getting rid of the car would be difficult.

“As mayor you go to a lot of events and someone has to drive you back. Mayors have always done a good job.

“The chauffeur is also important and the guy they’ve got at the moment is first class.”

The costs have been revealed after a request under the Freedom of Information Act was submitted to the local authority.

Although the council’s own Jaguar was sold, the original number plates were kept and remain in the possession of the council.

The decision was taken to outsource the service in late 2007 following the retirement of mayor’s chauffeur Geoff Hart.

Gill Wilkinson, Scarborough Council’s democratic services manager said yesterday: “The mayoral/civic role of the council is very important as the mayor acts as an ambassador for the town and helps promote the borough.

“The mayoral car and chauffeur service is still required to transport the mayor and deputy mayor to certain civic functions and the cost includes the chauffeur who acts as an escort for the dignitaries.”