Mayor gets a choice of Audi or Volvo

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South Tyneside Council has shelled out almost £6,000 since 2015 to provide cars for its civic leaders.

The council runs an Audi S8 and Volvo S80 for use by the borough’s mayor and deputy mayor.

In the last three years this has left the authority with a £5,947 bill, including fuel and maintenance.

A spokesman for the borough said: “The Civic Party, which comprises the Mayor and Mayoress and Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress, attend hundreds of civic engagements and works tirelessly to promote the Borough, recognising the work of community groups, schools and businesses in South Tyneside as well as raising funds for charity.

“All civic dignitaries wear the historic civic regalia when performing their official duties.

“It would therefore not be appropriate to expect them to travel to an event on public transport.

“Travelling by car is the most appropriate and cost effective means of travel, allowing the Mayor and Mayoress to attend more functions to recognise and promote the work of others.”

South Tyneside’s current mayor is Coun Ken Stephenson, who took up his chain of office in May.

The research by the TaxPayers Alliance (TPA) found 207 local councils spent a total of £4,513,607 providing vehicles for ‘mayors, lord mayors, lord provosts, chairmen and women’.

While south of the Tyne the mayor makes do with a choice of Volvo or Audi - bought in 2010 and 2014 respectively - North Tyneside Council provides a Jaguar and Volvo S90.

TPA chief executive John O’Connell 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 per cent 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.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service