Today’s Express and Star has tallied up how much Black Country councils have been spending on transport for their mayors, and the grand total comes to an astonishing £215,000. And that doesn’t even include Sandwell!
Most of us will associate our town mayors with flash jags, but the article draws some interesting comparisons between the local authorities. For example, why does the mayor of Dudley have two full-time driving attendants whose salaries amount to over £63,000 per year, whilst in Lichfield and Kidderminster the mayors are happy to drive themselves to events?
Indeed, in Kidderminster the mayoral vehicle is a humble Ford Mondeo…
Without suggesting that local civic occasions should be stripped bare of any semblance of pomp and show, there’s no good reason why one council should be leasing two cars and splashing out almost £85,000 on the whole thing, whilst another keeps the cost of running a vehicle down to just £5,000.
Surely the higher spending local councils could trim their costs down, especially when, for the most part, these authorities are pleading poverty and hiking council tax?
One commenter on the Express & Star website contextualised his council’s £85,000 spend and vividly illustrated why spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money ferrying around one councillor (and occasionally their spouse) is unacceptable to the wider community:
“£90000 for the Mayor to run about in a limo, whilst they’re proposing to close the wordl famous Broadfield House museum because they can’t afford £120,000 to keep it open. I know where they can find three quarters of the amount right away…”
Who really benefits from this spend? It’s really quite hard to ascertain. If this really is about civic pride, then it’s difficult to see how a man/woman in a chauffeur driven jag can possibly have a bigger and better impact than the wider community than witnessing the local council actively trying to save them money. One might suspect such flamboyancy would have the opposite effect, but whatever the case we can be pretty certain that swish limos with full-time driving attendants won’t boost morale in the same way as a museum or, at this time of recession, a tax cut.