Close to £50,000 spent on mayoral cars in Derry since April 2015

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Derry City and Strabane District Council has spent close to £50,000 on mayoral cars since the establishment of the local authority in April 2015

The bill was the second highest outlay on chauffeur-driven transport for first citizens incurred by any council in the North, after Antrim and Newtownabbey.

Right-wing thinktank, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which has published a log of spending on vehicles across Britain and the North, has suggested DC&SDC could have saved money by making Elisha McCallion, Hilary McCintock, Maolíosa McHugh and now the current Mayor, Colr. John Boyle, make their own ways to and from civic functions.

John O’Connell, TPA Chief Executive, 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.

“Forty 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.”

As it happens DC&SDC doesn’t have a Bentley or a Jaguar, rather it keeps two mayoral vehicles, a Ford Vignale and a Ford Mondeo, one of which was an existing asset at the time of the establishment of the new council three-and-a-half years ago, the other of which was purchased since then at a cost of £34,450.

Between April 2015 and March 2018 £4,696.61 was spent on fuel for the two cars while the total maintenance bill was £2,028.10, the TPA reported.

Two personalised number plates, meanwhile, cost £600 bringing the total bill to £41,774.

A DC&SDC spokesperson advised that it has spent an average of £16,200 per annum on mayoral cars since April 2015.

“The total spend includes the purchase of one car and associated maintenance and fuel costs. Council considers the cars essential in allowing the Mayor to attend as many community and business events as possible throughout the Council area and beyond,” the spokesperson stated.

The only council in the North to register a higher bill was Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council whose single Audi A8 3.0 TDI Quattro resulted in a bill of £48,421.10.