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Barking and Dagenham Council clashes with campaigners over mayoral car spending

PUBLISHED: 19:00 22 August 2018

Barking Town Hall. Picture: LBBD

Barking Town Hall. Picture: LBBD

LBBD

The council has clashed with campaigners who claim it spent £20,000 on cars for the borough’s mayors and chiefs over the last three years.

TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive John O'Connell. Pic: TaxPayers' AllianceTaxPayers' Alliance chief executive John O'Connell. Pic: TaxPayers' Alliance

The TaxPayers’ Alliance claimed Barking and Dagenham Council spent £19,335 leasing cars including a Ford Mondeo and four Fiestas following a freedom of information (FOI) request.

The council spent a further £4,000 on fuel and £1,500 on maintenance between 2015 and 2018, they claimed.

However, a council spokesman challenged the figure saying the cars were used by parking enforcement officers, cleaners and staff from its residential team. Confusing wording led the council to understood the FOI was asking about general car numbers not mayoral cars.

He said mayors have used the Mondeo since it was first hired in May 2012 at a cost of £210 per month. It spends £2,523 a year, not £20,000, he added.

Barking and Dagenham Council dispute the figures. Picture: LBBDBarking and Dagenham Council dispute the figures. Picture: LBBD

The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s total for Barking and Dagenham compared to the biggest spender in the capital – Redbridge Council – which campaigners claimed forked out almost £100,000 to ferry local politicians 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 will roll their eyes.”

But the council spokesman said: “The mayor has been an important figure in our borough since it was created in 1965. He or she attends more than 350 events each year as part of the ceremonial role, meeting key figures and raising thousands of pounds for charities as Barking and Dagenham’s first citizen.

“Due to the number of events the mayor attends, often on very tight timescales across a wide range of locations, it would not be practical to travel by public transport.

“However, we recognise these are difficult times for everyone, which is why we don’t use a brand new luxury model. Our spending in this area is well below the national average.”

Since 2015 207 councils across the country have spent £4,513,607 in total on vehicles for mayors, the TaxPayers’ Alliance claimed.

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