Councils spend £4.5m on luxury cars for officials, including Bentleys and Jaguars

Anna Mikhailova
Local councils have been buying cars including Jaguars for officials

Local councils are spending millions on luxury cars for mayors and officials in “ceremonial” roles, an investigation has found.

Over the past three years, 207 local authorities have spent more than £4.5million on vehicles including Bentleys, Jaguars and S-class Mercedes, information disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveals.

The cars were used by mayors, lord mayors or chairmen. The TaxPayers’ Alliance, a campaign group which carried out the investigation, said the money went on officials who “often fulfil ceremonial duties within their local authority and serve as the ‘first citizen’.

“These generally mundane and little cared-for functions do not require the purchasing or leasing of luxury vehicles to convey minor politicians.”

Councils spent more than £2.7million on buying or leasing vehicles since 2015, while the rest of the money went on maintenance or fuel. Nine councils bought personalised number plates for their officials.

Over the same period, council tax has risen by nearly £200 on average.

Glasgow, which has one of the highest spends on cars for officials Credit: Ian Dagnall / Alamy

Of the 372 local authorities surveyed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, 207 said they had spent money on cars for mayors or other ceremonial officials since 2015. The City of Glasgow reported the highest spend, at £107,661, followed by Hull city, which spent £94,471.

Devon, Milton Keynes and the London Borough of Redbridge were also among the highest spenders.

Three local authorities - Kensington and Chelsea, Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East -  admitted to owning a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, prices for which currently start at £132,800.

Other luxury cars used by council mayors include the Audi A8, the  BMW 7 the Jaguar XJ, the Mercedes S class and the Lexus RX.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, 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 of course be necessary to conduct duties, but families who struggle to pay their council tax bill will roll their eyes at the thought of their hard-earned money being spent on Bentleys and Jaguars for politicians to attend functions.

“40 per cent of councils didn't lease or buy cars, so all other local authorities should follow that example and encourage civic leaders to use cheaper forms of transport. Every penny wasted on excessive travel expenses is money that could be going towards social care or bin collections."