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Mayor refuses to give up taxpayer-funded Mercedes

PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 July 2011 | UPDATED: 10:19 22 July 2011

An E-Class Mercedes, similar to the car Lutfur Rahman is being driven in

An E-Class Mercedes, similar to the car Lutfur Rahman is being driven in

Archant

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has refused to give up his taxpayer-funded chauffeur driven Mercedes – despite calls for him to suffer the cuts with his constituents.

Lutfur Rahman is currently hiring a top-of-the-range E-Class Mercedes at £72 a day, plus more for a council employee to drive him around the borough.

But outrage from campaigning groups, who argue that such spending is inappropriate when the council is driving through £70 million of cuts, has had no sway and Mr Rahman has refused to give up the perk.

Instead, the mayor has announced he will hire a similar model on a four-year lease which the council says will halve costs.

The pricetag is estimated to be more than £10,000 a year, with the chauffeur costs on top.

Glyn Robbins, from the Hands Off Our Public Services campaign, said the group was “shocked” to hear about the expenditure.

He added: “Every other orgnisation that relies on public money has to justify every penny. I would be very surpried to see that this car – the model and the fact it is chauffeur-driven – is good value for money. It’s simply ostentatious.”

The Taxpayers’ Alliance branded the move “sickening”.

Directly elected mayors in neighbouring boroughs Newham and Hackney, Sir Robin Wales and Jules Pipe, use their own cars, public transport or pool cars.

The council has said Mr Rahman’s new vehicle will both greener and cheaper.

The current model has a petrol engine but the new one will run on diesel.

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesman said: “The car will shortly be replaced by another vehicle of similar model.

“It will cost less than half of what the current lease does. The model chosen is also the best overall performer for both CO2 and fuel efficiency in this category of vehicle.”

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