Tuesday 19 July 2011

Limo dependency in local government - latest

Lord Hanningfield (alias Paul White), for ten years leader of Essex County Council, was a crook.

It was revealed earlier this week that internal audits in 2007 showed a lack of receipts for purchases on White’s corporate credit card. It also emerged he was spending about £5,200 a month on it and could sign off his own expenses.

With a record like that there’ll always be a place for him in the London Borough of Waltham Forest!

His Lordship was also fond of car travel.

His use of a chauffeur-driven car to ferry him from the council to the House of Lords focused attention on the authority's chauffeur service.

A Freedom of Information request by BBC Look East revealed the council paid £677,733 to run chauffeur-driven cars over the past five years. Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester Bob Russell said: "Frankly, I think it was an abuse. Essex did not need three chauffeur-driven cars. We know that because they've now cut it down to one."

Mike Mackrory, Liberal Democrat deputy opposition leader, said: "I find it quite extraordinary and one really wonders what on earth the journeys were and how that could be justified?"

The council now has one chauffeur-driven car, a Jaguar, used mainly by chairman Rodney Bass.

He told the BBC that if the prime minister could have a car, so should he, because of the number of functions he attends.

But it’s not just Conservatives who get up to this kind of thing:

The mayor of Tower Hamlets is spending about £1,500 a month on a chauffeur-driven car, it was revealed today.

Lutfur Rahman, who was thrown out of the Labour Party last year over alleged links with the Islamic Forum of Europe and alleged vote-rigging, was criticised today after it emerged he spends £72 of public money every day on leasing a Mercedes.

A spokesman for Labour-run Tower Hamlets said: "The sheer number of appointments he has to attend in any one day and the need to work while on the move means using public transport does not allow the mayor to perform his role in the most effective way."