Fury over new car for mayor

CAR: Toyota Prius
CAR: Toyota Prius
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Chorley’s cash-strapped council has come under fire for providing its mayor with a brand new motor.

The authority, which announced plans to scale back the role of the town’s first citizen in a bid to save £20,000 from the £100,000 mayoral budget, has forked out for a new Toyota Prius.

The authority has used the hybrid model for the past three years, but the lease had run out and so the council has replaced the car with a brand new model.

The Toyota, which can cost up to £26,000 brand new, will set the council back £333 a month as part of the new lease - a move which has infuriated opposition councillors.

Deputy leader of the Chorley Labour Party, Coun Peter Wilson said: “I’m sure taxpayers will question why the mayor of Chorley is being driven around in a brand new car when the authority needs to save £4m over the next four years.

“The town is facing huge cuts, and we have to question whether replacing cars at this time is a good idea and cost effective.

“There is also an issue as the Prius isn’t even made in the UK so has not supported the industry here or helped with jobs on a national or local level.

“I believe that the council needs to look at its procurement procedure to see if it can help support businesses in the Chorley area.”

The council announced the planned cuts to the mayoral budget earlier in the year after the Government significantly reduced the amount of funding the authority would receive.

The incoming Chorley Mayor, Coun Pat Case also revealed plans to modernise the role and in a bid to save money she said she would refrain from wearing the valuable mayoral chains in public as often to help reduce insurance costs.

She also pledged to scale down the number of events she would attend, especially those outside of the borough, and cancelled the annual Mayor’s Ball.

Defending the move to replace the car, Leader of the council, Coun Peter Goldsworthy said: “The three-year lease on the previous mayoral car came to an end in July.

“We looked into other makes and models, but decided that the tried and tested Toyota Prius – which is what we had for the last three years – offered the most environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient option that meets our needs for a mayoral car.

“As such, we have replaced the vehicle like-for-like with another black Toyota Prius, costing £4,007 a year for the next three years.

“One of the first things I did when the Conservatives came into power in 2006 was reduce the number of mayoral vehicles from two to one, making an instant 50 per cent saving.”