During the tenure of Sir Peter Housden, who stepped down as Permanent Secretary to the Scottish government last month, a campaign was launched with the aim to urge people to ‘leave a car when it’s not far’. Ironically, it has been revealed that Sir Peter, in his Chauffeur-driven car, took dozens of journeys that were under a mile and also took 35 round trips to Edinburgh Airport instead of using the new tram system. Clearly Sir Peter is not much of an outdoor person. Not only were these 500 yard drives creating more pollution but of course, taxpayers were left to foot the unnecessary bill which amounted to £18,170 a year.
Obviously, the claims defending his use of the car service stating that it provided a secure place for work to be done whilst travelling is entirely ridiculous as a 1 minute, 500 yard drive merely provides enough time to shut the car door. As Eben Wilson, director of our sister organisation Taxpayer Scotland, says:
"The idea that someone would be able to work on a 500 yard car journey is ridiculous. I’d be surprised if they’d be able to get a briefcase open."
The Scottish government needs to stop this type of unproductive spending at a time when public services are being cut and pay closer attention to the accountability of civil servants to taxpayers instead of trying to defend actions that need sanctioning.