Across the UK, local authorities have spent nearly £2.7 million on buying, leasing and maintaining cars for mayoral use over the last three financial years.
Mayors (and equivalents such as chairmen and provosts) fulfil some ceremonial duties within their local authorities and serve as the ‘first citizen’. However, these relatively minor politicians should not need to purchase or lease luxury vehicles, with taxpayers’ money, to better perform their limited tasks and attend functions.
Between April 2019 and March 2022:
162 local authorities spent £2,689,959 on vehicles for mayors, lord mayors, lord provosts and chairmen and women. This includes fuel, maintenance, tax and other associated costs. The average spending for those councils providing cars was £16,605.
- At least 182 cars are owned or leased by local authorities across the UK for the use of their mayor (or equivalent figure). 20 local authorities ran more than one mayoral car. Coventry City, for example, paid for both Jaguar F-Pace and Jaguar I-Pace vehicles.
- Of the 162 local authorities providing mayoral cars, only 35 per cent were using environmentally friendly electric or hybrid electric vehicles.
- Three local authorities (Hammersmith and Fulham, Southampton and Falkirk) own Tesla models. Birmingham city council and St Helens metropolitan borough council own Range Rovers. The city of Glasgow ran a Rolls Royce Ghost.
- Other luxury vehicles used by UK councils’ mayors included the Audi A8, BMW 7 series, Jaguar XJ, Mercedes S class and Lexus RX.
- The local authority that spent the most was Birmingham city council, spending £59,884 on leasing, maintenance and fuel for two luxury cars in the last three years (a Range Rover and a Jaguar F-Pace Saloon with a personalised number plate). Birmingham Council features in the top 20 most deprived neighbourhoods in England. Burnley, Blackpool, Knowsley and Rochdale also share this distinction.
- Edinburgh spent the most money on mayoral cars in Scotland at £48,847 and they are the third highest spending authority in the UK according to our data. The city of Edinburgh has been reported to have one of the lowest numbers of car commuters in the UK and has made significant efforts to increase the proportion of ultra-low emissions vehicles. However, the council ran two luxury BMW 730D SE diesel models in the years reviewed.
- Bolton metropolitan borough council, Charnwood council, North East Lincolnshire council and Peterborough council all spent taxpayers’ money on transferring personalised number plates.
 Anderson, J., 19 of the 20 most deprived areas with England’s most deprived neighbourhoods are in the north, i news, 27 September 2019.
 Mitchell, J., The ten greenest cities in the UK, The Week, 2 November 2021.