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Over £40,000 spent on mayors’ cars in three years

OVER £40,000 was spent on luxury vehicles for council mayors over the past three years, a watchdog report has revealed.

In total, a sizeable £41,774 of ratepayer’s money was spent on leasing high spec vehicles for mayors in Derry City and Strabane council, complete with eye catching personalised number plates. 

The information, provided by the Taxpayers Alliance, reveal that since 2015 the council has leased both a Ford Vignale and Ford Mondeo at a combined cost of £34,450, with a further £6,724 spent on maintenance and £600 for personalised number plates. The personalised number plates were DC 03 SDC and DC 04 SDC although council could not confirm if they were sold on after use. 

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Overall, Derry City and Strabane council had the second highest spend on mayoral vehicles out of all the district council areas, surpassed only by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, which spent £48,421 on a single, fully loaded Audi A8 Quattro.

Meanwhile, four councils did not have vehicles for mayoral trips, including nearby Mid Ulster and Fermanagh and Omagh District councils. 

Commenting on the spend on mayoral cars, a spokesperson from Derry City and Strabane District Council deemed the cars a necessary expense. 

“Council has spent an average of £16,200 per annum on Mayoral cars since April 2015,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

However TaxPayers’ Alliance Campaign Manager Chloe Westley said councils should re-evaluate their spending. 

“Taxpayers are tired of hearing local authorities say they have no money left when there are still instances of excessive spending,” she said. “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 percent of councils didn’t lease or buy cars, so Derry City and Strabane council 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.”
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