Tower Hamlets asks Newham how much it spends on Mayor’s non-existent chauffeur

Officers from Tower Hamlets Council have been asking neighbouring boroughs how much they spend on chauffeurs for Mayors – only to be told they never use them.

A freedom of information request asking for a breakdown of costs associated with the Newham Mayor’s transport was sent out to the council by Tower Hamlets finance chiefs.

But Newham swiftly responded to inform its neighbouring local authority that its Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, did not use chauffeurs – unlike his counterpart Lutfur Rahman.

Newham’s cabinet member for finance Cllr Lester Hudson put the request down to an attempt by Tower Hamlets Council to justify its expenditure on a £70 per day Mercedes for Mayor Rahman.

“We do not see it as appropriate for public money to be used to provide our Mayor with chauffeurs, limousines or to pay their associated costs,” he said.

“Abusing freedom of information requests in this way means not only do Tower Hamlets residents pay to chauffeur Mayor Rahman around, they also pay for council officers who have been asked to defend the indefensible.”

The Tower Hamlets officer withdrew the request on Sunday, but the council said it had no plans to change transport arrangements for Mayor Rahman.

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A spokesman added: “We occasionally undertake comparative work to benchmark our own spending against that of other local authorities.

“We are undertaking some analysis on transport for executive Mayors which has involved us speaking to councils across the country.”