How Scarborough’s Mayor gets to and from engagements is to be examined by the borough council to see if it can make any further cost savings.
The authority is coming to the end of a contract with a hire car firm to provide transport for the Mayor of the borough, currently Conservative councillor Joe Plant.
The contract has cost the council an average of £31,500 over the last three years. A recent study by the TaxPayers’ Alliance found that the average spend by authorities on Mayoral cars was £21,804 per annum.
The council’s overview and scrutiny board will next week review the use of the hire car and make recommendations on what course of action should be taken.
The three options available are for the mayor to use taxis and their own transport, for the council to buy a car and, finally, to continue to use a chauffeur service.
The preferred option, according to a report prepared for the committee by Scarborough Council’s Democratic and Corporate Modernisation manager Kerry Russett, is to tender for a new hire firm, whilst also reducing the number of uses of any car.
The last three Mayors of Scarborough to have a full term of office attended between 320 and 350 events a year. The chauffeur service was used in around 50% of these cases. In 2011/12 the Mayor attended 478 civic engagements, using the mayoral car for 71% of these.
The current contract, with Pinnacle Chauffeur Transport Ltd, allows for 250 trips per year covering up to 10,000 miles.
However, the report notes that where the mayor lives can have a drastic impact on the contract limits.
Ms Russett writes: “The current Mayor is Whitby based, and the mileage after only five months (May to September) is already nearly level with the mileage for the previous two whole mayoral years.
“If this trend continues for the next seven months to the end of the Mayoral year, then the mileage will dramatically exceed the cap of 10,000.”
The previous three Mayors, all based either in or around Scarborough town, travelled an average of 6,237 miles. Cllr Plant is on pace to cover 15,000.
Due to the previous Mayors not hitting 10,000 the service operator will not penalise the council if it goes over the contract limit this year.
The recommendations for the overview and scrutiny board includes the retendering of the chauffeur contract, but with a reduced number of events to 200.
Other savings have been made in the civic office with the loss of one job, which saves the council £41,000, and the reduction of the Mayor’s hospitality budget to £3,050 from £9,030.
The report concludes that while the chauffeur option may not be the cheapest, the other options come with more risks.
It notes that if a Mayor who does not drive is elected and the council chooses for the Mayor to make their own way to events then it could cost more in expense claims from taxis.
The overview and scrutiny board will feed its recommendations on the service back to the council’s cabinet.