Whitby mayors penalised for where they live

Cllr Joe Plant is on pace to cover more than 15,000 miles
Cllr Joe Plant is on pace to cover more than 15,000 miles

Fears have been raised that borough councillors from Whitby could be put off becoming Mayor due to the increased mileage it puts on the council’s contract to transport its first citizen.

Scarborough Council is in the process of reviewing its Mayoral chauffeur contract, which sees it use a hire firm to transport the Mayor to 250 events a year or up to 10,000 miles.

However, current Mayor and Whitby resident, Cllr Joe Plant, is on pace to cover more than 15,000 miles as a large number of events he is expected to attend take place in Scarborough.

The council will not be penalised for Cllr Plant’s extra journeys as its previous three councillors in the ceremonial role all came from Scarborough and came under the 10,000-mile limit.

Even with Cllr Plant exceeding the number it would average out below the cut-off point in the contract over four years.

The contract, which has cost the council £31,500 a year for the last three years, will now go back out to tender with the authority looking at how it can make savings.

One suggestion is to either drop the number of events the Mayor uses a car for to 200 another is to lower the number of miles budgeted for.

However, Fylingdales ward councillor Jane Mortimer (Con) told Wednesday’s Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting that the review showed an obvious issue with the mileage cap.

She said: “It seems to me that as long as you live in Scarborough you fitted in with the 10,000 miles limit and if you live somewhere else in the northern area [you didn’t].

“I’m from Robin Hood’s Bay and a return trip for me [to Scarborough] is 36 miles, for [Danby ward councillor Clive Pearson] it is 60. How you manage that I’m not sure.”

Kerry Russett, the council’s Democratic and Corporate Modernisation manager who prepared the board’s report on the contract, said the purpose of the review was not to restrict where the Mayor could come from within the borough.

She said: “We don’t want to penalise mayors from further afield.”

She told the committee that the current contract, with Pinnacle Chauffeur Transport Ltd, had too many variables and that a limit on both the number of trips and miles made it hard to manage effectively.

She added that future mayors would have to accept that they may have to make their own way to some events.

The last three Mayors of Scarborough to have a full term of office attended between 320 to 350 events a year.

The chauffeur service was used in around 50% of these cases. In 2011/12 the Mayor attended 478 civic engagements, using the mayoral car for 71% of these.

A recent study by the TaxPayers’ Alliance found that the average spend on Mayoral cars by local authorities per year was £21,800.

The Overview and Scrutiny Board backed the chauffeur contract going back out to tender to allow officers to identify any savings that could be made.