CARDIFF Council spent tens of thousands of pounds for the Lord Mayor to be driven to official engagements over the last year.
A freedom of information (FOI) request revealed that the council spent £21,321 on costs relating to relief chauffeurs in 2022/23. The council spent £7,410 on the same thing in 2021/22.
The FOI also revealed that the council spent £17,252 on vehicle hire/leasing for the mayoral car from 2021 to 2023. This includes maintenance charges such as servicing, MOT and tyres.
Cardiff Council has defended the amount spent on transporting the Lord Mayor, currently Councillor Graham Hinchey, saying the figures being quoted in the FOI response represent a tiny fraction of the Council’s overall net annual budget.
A spokesperson for Cardiff Council, said: “In line with the local authority’s commitment to sustainable transport, and for Cardiff to become a net zero carbon city, the Lord Mayor’s car is now an electric vehicle, having made the switch in July, 2022.
“In 2021/22, the number of official engagements for the Lord Mayor, and therefore the use of the official car, dropped significantly to 96, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The number of official engagements, and car usage, in 2022/23 increased back to the levels broadly seen prior to the pandemic.”
Other information from the FOI revealed that £1,300 was spent on fuel costs from 2021 to 2023 (£890 in2021/22 and £410 in 2022/23) for the mayoral car. A total of £720 was spent on car insurance from 2021 to 2023.
Cardiff Council last month voted through a council tax increase and school meals price hike as it faces a £24 million budget gap for 2023/24.
The council spokesperson added: “In 2022/23, The Lord Mayor attended over 230 official engagements which required use of the Mayoral car, many of which are at the invitation of community projects, charities, schools and care homes.
“Alternative modes of transport would not be practical, given the number, scope and timings of these engagements. The Lord Mayor attended many more appointments on top of these official engagements.
“The Lord Mayor’s Chauffeur, and the electric car, ensure that the First Citizen of Cardiff and Consort arrive at their engagements on schedule, dressed in the appropriate civic regalia, which is of both historical and cultural significance, in a manner befitting the status of the office of The Rt Hon, The Lord Mayor of the City and County of Cardiff.
“In their role as First Citizen, the Lord Mayor is strictly politically neutral, with the role being rotated between parties, usually on an annual basis.
“The role of Lord Mayor brings significant value to the city, both in terms of the stature of the office, and the charitable work undertaken.
“The figures being quoted represent a tiny fraction of the Council’s overall net annual budget, and the costs associated with the office of Lord Mayor have reduced significantly over the years.”