Mayor criticised for using chaffeur-driven car

Darren Johnson

Darren Johnson photo:flickr@lewishamdreamer

Lewisham Councillor Darren Johnson has spoken out against the use of a chauffeur-driven car by the borough’s mayor, Sir Steve Bullock.

The Green Party politician asked a formal question to the Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Paul Maslin, during a full council meeting regarding the annual costs of the two mayoral cars.

It was revealed that one car, including insurance and annual service, amounts to less than £2,500 a year, and its use was justified as it was necessary to enable the Mayor to fulfil his duties efficiently.

Cllr Johnson said: “I would question whether it’s something Lewisham Council should be spending money on at all, at a time of such harsh cuts to local services.”

However the council insisted that the usage of the cars is under constant review and it is very likely that one of the two cars will not be replaced when the lease expires this year.

Cllr Johnson however was concerned as to whether they were needed. He added, “The Mayor of London and the London Assembly have managed quite happily without their own chauffeur-driven car for the past decade”

The Liberal Democrat Cllr Duwayne Brooks has spoken in favour of Mayor Bullock. He said: “If it is the case that the car only costs £2,500, then this is not that bad. I think other councils spend much more.

“It will take a lot of time checking bus or train times, or waiting for taxis. He has a very busy schedule, and getting on a bus in his heavy official costume is not ideal.”

Simon Nundy, the Conservative candidate in the Mayoral elections that were held last year disagreed, saying: “The only perk I wanted had I become Mayor was a parking permit so I did not get fines when I was out on duty. I know how to drive.

“I don’t think the Mayor really needs a chauffeur driven car considering that most of his jobs will take place within Lewisham.

“If he was going to Edinburgh then it makes sense, as he could rest, take phone calls and go over documents. But when he needs to travel around the borough I don’t see the need.”

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