Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council were the latest local authorities to be exposed for their extortionate taxi bills in the Coventry Telegraph yesterday. This comes in the wake of Birmingham City Council staff spending a reported £1.17million.
Coventry City Council managed to blow £1.5 million, whilst Warwickshire County Council spent a huge £4 million in the last financial year.
Although the majority of these journeys can be accounted for as transport for children with special needs, Coventry City Council admitted that at least £26,000 of the expenditure was claimed in expenses by their own staff.
Additionally nearly half a million of the amount spent by Warwickshire County Council was on taxis to transport children in rural areas with insufficient public transport links to their school or nearest bus stop. Surely a couple of buses could be laid on by the council to service these areas for a substantially smaller sum?
Both councils seem to acknowledge that much of this expense is an abuse of public funds by claiming that their use of these taxis is ‘under review’.
Obviously children with special needs require reliable and safe transportation, but for the £3.4million-per-year that Warwickshire County Council is spending on taxi fares they could no doubt buy several cars complete with full time drivers for this sole purpose, and at a fraction of the cost to ratepayers.
Councils need to look at alternatives to taxis as part of their efforts to deliver value for money. It quite simply isn’t acceptable to constantly resort to the easy option, regardless of the cost to the public. That staff have been allowed to accumulate taxi expenses that run into the thousands, is indicative of Coventry City Council’s cavalier attitude towards profligate spending.
These huge amounts are not the inevitable cost of having to cater for children with special needs, but the wild expense of two councils who have failed to explore other avenues of transportation and are content to avoid having to do so, relying on the taxpayer to cover these costs no matter how high they spiral.