Is mayoral car spending in Scarborough fair?

by Jeremy Hutton, Policy Analyst

Following our recent research into the costs of mayoral cars, which revealed that £4.5 million has been spent on the ceremonial vehicles since 2015, Scarborough Borough Council is launching a review into their use of chauffeured hire cars.

The review will scrutinise the council’s current care hire arrangements which cost local taxpayers £31,500 per year, almost £10,000 above the nationwide average of £21,804. Spurred forth by TPA research, Scarborough council have revealed that the current car hire contract with Pinnacle Chauffeur Transport Ltd was actually under-utilised under the three previous mayors by approximately 38 per cent. The current mayor meanwhile is this year set to exceed the contractual limit of 10,000 miles by 5000 miles!

The leading proposal for the review of the hire cars recommends a retendering of the chauffeur contract which would reduce the number of events a hire car is available for by 50 trips to 200 per year. Other options could see mayors encouraged to use taxis, their own vehicles or for the council to purchase its own private vehicle.

Although it is encouraging that our research has incentivised Scarborough council to launch this review, it should be bold and go further than the proposed 20 per cent reduction in chauffeur use. Two-fifths of councils get by perfectly well without owning or leasing luxury vehicles for ceremonial use, there is no reason why Scarborough can’t ditch the chauffeur and spend this money on the local services residents expect their council tax to pay for.