May 24 2013 Latest news:
by Nadia Sam-Daliri
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The mayor of Tower Hamlets’ lavish tastes have put him in the firing line once again after it emerged he is hiring a top-of-the-range Mercedes at taxpayers’ expense.
Lutfur Rahman has given the go-ahead to rent out the E-Class saloon at a cost of £72 a day and he is being chauffeur-driven around the borough by council staff.
The designer car could land taxpayers with a bill of £360 a week or more if used at weekends.
Only last month the Independent mayor was slammed for forking out £115,000 of council cash to triple the size of his office and expand facilities for his cabinet.
Critics argue it would cheaper and greener for the mayor to use public transport or hire a less extravagant vehicle.
Emma Boon, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s quite frankly sickening to see this man cruising through the streets of one of London’s most deprived boroughs in a luxury car.”
The use of the Mercedes - which starts from around £30,000 to buy - is in stark contrast to the way leaders of neighbouring boroughs get around.
In Newham, directly elected mayor Sir Robin Wales uses his own car and in Hackney mayor Jules Pipe predominantly uses public transport and ocassionally his own car.
Tower Hamlets’ Tory leader Peter Golds, who put in a member’s enquiry to get the information, said: “Most people use public transport and there’s no reason why the mayor shouldn’t. Tower Hamlets has very good transport links.”
The council is currently driving through spending cuts of £70million.
A council document said the car is being hired from ING Car Lease and added: “The vehicle is being driven by a chauffeur, drawn on a rotating basis from the pool of council-certified drivers.”
A council spokesperson said: “The mayor often has no option but to work whilst on the move. Like most ceremonial mayors and council leaders do, the mayor uses a car as an efficient way of being able to do just that, and ensure he can attend the many back-to-back appointments that he is required to attend.”
The council said it regularly assesses whether the mayor’s travel is as green as it can be.
It refused to say how much has been spent on the car so far and how long it has being hired for.