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Tower Hamlets Council spent £27k on cars ferrying leaders around, campaigners claim

PUBLISHED: 19:00 22 August 2018

Tower Hamlets Council spent £27,000 on cars, according to the TaxPayers' Alliance. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets Council spent £27,000 on cars, according to the TaxPayers' Alliance. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The council spent more than £27,000 on cars for the borough’s leaders over the last three years, a campaign group has claimed.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance showed Tower Hamlets Council spent £13,263 leasing cars including a Toyota Prius hatchback using a freedom of information (FOI) request.

The council spent a further £1,797 on fuel and £12,495 on maintenance between 2015 and 2018, according to campaigners.

This compares to the biggest spender in the capital – Redbridge Council – which forked out almost £100,000 to ferry its local politicains around.

Chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance 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 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.

“Every penny wasted on excessive travel expenses is money that could be going towards social care or bin collections,” Mr O’Connell added.

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesman said mayor John Biggs does not use an official car, preferring to walk or travel on public transport. He has not made any expense claims for travel to engagements in the borough and following his election in 2015, mayor Biggs scrapped the use of the chauffeured vehicle in place under his predecessor, the spokesman added.

He went on to say the speaker of the council, who performs ceremonial functions, uses the leased Prius rather than public transport due to the “significant value and weight” of the chains worn for the role.

“The cost of leasing the car is £4,241 per year. To achieve best value for money, the car is classed as a pool car for general use when not required by the speaker. After negotiation, the lease costs next year will reduce.”

Since 2015 207 councils have spent £4,513,607 on vehicles for mayors, lord mayors, lord provosts, chairmen and chairwomen. This includes the cost of fuel, maintenance and tax. The average spend was £21,804.

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