Cash-strapped Lancaster City Council has spent more than £44,000 on a chauffeur driver service for its mayor and deputy during the last three years.
The figure is the second highest spend in the county, with councillors deciding it would be more cost-effective than buying or leasing a vehicle to transport the mayor – this year being Coun Andrew Kay – around.
The news is highlighted in a report by the Taxpayers’ Alliance following a Frreedom of Information request.
Most councils in the county said they lease a car that is used by their mayo, with a Jaguar XJ Executive, Audi A8 and a Hyundai i30 among the chosen cars.
However, the two highest spending councils – Wyre and Lancaster – both paid more than £10,000 a year on chauffeurs for their mayors.
A spokesman for Lancaster City Council, which spent £44,199 on a chauffeur service over the three years, said: “The position of mayor is a very important one for the community and every year they and their deputy attend hundreds of events, helping to promote community organisations, support local businesses and raise thousands of pounds for local charities.
“The mayor, and the civic regalia that is part and parcel of the position, require transport to and from these events, many of which take place late into the evening or early in the morning.
“In 2013 the council decided that rather than buying or leasing a mayoral car, it would instead contract a car and driver service, as this would be a more cost effective option in the long term.”
By comparison, Blackpool Council spent just over £15,000 in the three-year period and Preston City Council just £7,753.
Pipping Lancaster City Council to the top spending spot was Wyre Borough Council, who spent £55,516 in the same period.
A Wyre council spokesman said: “The council uses a lower cost chauffeur service for the mayor’s car rather than purchasing a car outright as this provides a better value for money service over the longer term.”
The council also said if other authorities bought their mayoral cars outright before 2015, the figures would not show up in the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s findings, meaning Wyre’s spend would look higher.
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 ... every penny wasted on excessive travel expenses is money that could be going towards social care or bin collections.”
Here is the full breakdown from across the region:
Council - Total spend (2015-2018)
Wyre - £53,515.00
Lancaster - £44,198.70
Fylde (figure includes outright purchase of car) - £31,410.20
Blackburn with Darwen - £24,143.40
Burnley - £21,687.20
West Lancashire - £15,537.00
Chorley - £15,529.60
Blackpool - £15,162.00
Rossendale - £12,853.50
Hyndburn - £12,178.60
Preston - £7,753.00
South Ribble - £7,270.50