Councils spent £4.5 million on cars for mayors

For immediate release

The results of a Freedom of Information request by the TaxPayers’ Alliance has revealed big spending on luxury vehicles for mayors and council chairmen. 

Local councils often claim that there is no more fat to trim, yet this new research suggests that millions could be saved by encouraging local politicians to save money when attending events by using their own methods of transport, public transport or at the very least to stop buying luxury cars.

Since 2015, 207 local authorities spent £4,513,607 on cars for mayors, lord mayors, lord provosts and and their equivalents. Over that same time period, council tax in England has increased by an average of £188.   

Since 2015:

  • 207 local authorities spent £4,513,607 on vehicles for mayors, lord mayors, lord provosts, chairmen and women. This includes fuel, maintenance, tax and other associated costs. The average spend was £21,804.

  • Local authorities spent £2,745,097 on buying and leasing cars over the three-year period.

  • At least 252 cars are owned or leased by local authorities across the UK for the use of the mayor (or equivalent figure).

  • Three local authorities (Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East and Kensington and Chelsea) own a Bentley Continental Flying Spur (from £132,800).

  • Other luxury vehicles used by UK councils’ mayors included the Audi A8 (from £69,415), BMW 7 (from £63,040), Jaguar XJ (from £62,360), Mercedes S class (from £70,470) and Lexus RX (from £48,655).

  • 9 councils spent taxpayers’ money on personalised number plates, whilst others purchased them many years ago.
Commenting on the findings of this investigation, John O'Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Taxpayers are tired of hearing local authorities say they have no money left when there are still instances of excessive spending. Some travel will of course be necessary to conduct duties but families who struggle to pay their council tax bill will roll their eyes at the thought of their hard-earned money being spent on Bentleys and Jaguars for politicians to attend functions. 

40% of councils didn't lease or buy cars, so all other local authorities should follow that example and encourage civic leaders to use cheaper forms of transport. Every penny wasted on excessive travel expenses is money that could be going towards social care or bin collections."
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