Civic budget report recommends downgrading chauffeur driven car for Lichfield District Council chairman

A report has recommended keeping – but downgrading – a chauffeur-driven car for the chairman of Lichfield District Council.

The offices of Lichfield District Council. Pic: Lichfield District Council

The offices of Lichfield District Council. Pic: Lichfield District Council

The local authority has been reviewing the entire £60,000 civic budget since June last year.

There had been criticism in some quarters over the spending, including the £16,000 a year bill for a chauffeur-driven Jaguar.

A report to the council’s Cabinet has recommended using a leased Mondeo in future.

“All options regarding transport arrangements for the chairman and consort have been considered,” the report said.

“It is proposed that a lease car and chauffeur service is still required to ensure a level of safety and security and in order to not discriminate against any member who could not drive or preclude them from taking up the position.”

The Cabinet will also discuss proposals to cut the number of functions attended by the chairman and cut the civic duties allowance.

The chairman’s allowance is currently £6,490, but the report has recommended cutting this to £3,250.

The vice-chairman’s allowance would fall from £2,810 to £1,400.

“While there is a statutory role for a chairman to preside over council meetings, there is no legislation requiring a civic function,” the report added. “However, to the best of our knowledge their is no authority that does not have a civic function.

“It is felt that there are advantages to having a ‘first citizen’ – promoting the district, the council, aiding networking opportunities and helping to build relationships between the council and other groups and organisations.

“However, it is also felt that there is value in reviewing, modernising and refreshing the civic role to ensure it remains relevant and that there are strong links to the council and its strategic priorities as well as to the community it serves.”

Should all of the recommendations be approved, the £59,080 budget would be reduced by £7,385.

The Cabinet will discuss the report at a meeting on April 5.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

21 Comments

  1. Steve Norman

    29th March, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Some good scrutiny by members but Cabinet will be making a recommendation to the whole Council with a justification for rejecting the public’s response. Though the one ‘vote’ in Stonnall to keep the chauffeur and car will be pleased. Let’s hope that the whip isn’t applied and a named vote recorded.
    Can Lichfield Live get a comment from our MP whose vote for draconian cuts in LDC’s funding has forced the council to look at this relatively small budget?

  2. Frustrated

    31st March, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    A £59K budget does not seem small to me. It is the council tax of 40 – 50 Lichfield families, who have had to struggle and go without to pay their council tax.

    If I need a chauffeur driven car, I call City Cars, 255 taxis, dial a cab…… then a chauffeur appears, in a car and takes me where I wish to go.

    Have there been security threats against the LDC Chairman? Or, is this just one of those impossible to quantify excuses?

  3. major Rikki woodruff

    1st April, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Cannot agree more this extravagance is uncalled for,dosent even need to be city cares there are premier services who would still be cheaper than this.

  4. Mat

    2nd April, 2016 at 11:44 am

    When people are going without essentials the budget should be trimmed to 42p a mile in expenses using your own car. We are all in this together!!!!

  5. sarah clark

    2nd April, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Maybe we could get them a bike like Boris. This is disgusting. People have no homes, no food our NHS is going down the pan. I hope they sleep at night. Get the bus or drive yourselves you lazy …….. Grrrrrrrr!

  6. Thornton

    4th April, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I would suggest perhaps using one of the City’s taxi services on a tender basis to show off the City’s businesses. Or perhaps an electric vehicle to show how the City is forward thinking and environment conscious. A Jaguar has no connection to the City so woukd be nice to have something more related.

  7. Steven Norman

    4th April, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    When the Council has to find another £915,120 in savings/cuts/reductions this financial year alone (making £1.554 million in the last two years) then a proposed saving of £7,385 whilst helpful is small in a “relatively small budget” of £59,000 in an overall budget of £11 million.
    I hope all the above will join me tomorrow evening to see what the Cabinet discusses although the item on the Communities Infrastructure Levy will have greater significance for residents.

  8. Nomad

    4th April, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Buy them a Sinclair C5 as a reflection on their epic fails to date as a council

  9. Darryl

    5th April, 2016 at 8:45 am

    “It is proposed that a lease car and chauffeur service is still required to ensure a level of safety and security and in order to not discriminate against any member who could not drive or preclude them from taking up the position.”

    Hideous, weasel’y statement. A pox on any who argues against the security of our staff or the disabled.

  10. AgitatorofPeople

    5th April, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Can I point the Lichfield District Council to Lichfield Re-Cycle a self sustaining group not reliant on public funding that will supply them with Green transport that is free to use, not far from their offices!

  11. Thornton

    5th April, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Still think a taxi is a good idea. Both City Cars and Dial-a-Car offer an excellent service and are Lichfield based.

  12. Frustrated

    5th April, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Lichfield Examination Report Published 24/02/2016
    Three residential housing development charging zones with rates of £55, £25 and £14 per square metre. No charge for apartment developments.
    Supermarkets will be charged £160 per square metre. Retail warehouse developments will be charged £70 per square metre. Neighbourhood convenience retail developments will be charged £20 per square metre.
    No charge for all other uses.

    http://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1121218/cil-watch-whos-charging-what

    Interesting:
    1. Lichfield have an examination report published, other councils have adopted the scheme already. So are they generating income already?
    2. No charge for apartments. Wonder why Kwik Save, What and The Friary all now want to be apartment developments.
    3. Lichfield and Staffordshire appear to let developers do what they want and ignore local people. Then when they leave a mess, nothing can be done.

    There are many of us in Lichfield who know about cutting budgets, we have to do it every day. We have to go without, we have to sell possessions to make ends meet and then we have to pay for someone to drive round in a chauffeur driven car. It really is a disgusting waste of money.

    I am surprised that the Labour party are not fighting this. I am disabled, I do not have access to chauffeur driven cars, to get to work. If I can’t afford something, I can’t have it.

    Lichfield can’t afford chauffeur driven cars, so cut it out.

  13. Concerned Citizen

    5th April, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Let’s not forget that the Councillors will be deciding upon their annual allowances for the upcoming civic year in the next few weeks. Let’s see how they act. After an inflation-busting increase last year, surely they deserve the same again this time. After all, let’s think of their achievements in the last twelve months………

    hmmm, it’s difficult to think of one. They can’t even make a simple decision about eliminating the Chairman’s official car.

  14. Sue woodward

    5th April, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    The Labour Opposition Group has been calling for changes for some time now – and supporting the task group recommendations, of which I was a member. Most recommendations were accepted, tho not all. The task group will be asked to review the new arrangements and it might give an opportunity for further changes.

    It’s about the art of the possible though. There are still too many of the 47 members who cling to the paraphernalia around the Chairman, and there are only 4 Labour members after all. It’s all got too overblown when the main job is to act in a non-political way to chair meetings and represent the Council. As one individual said, “Some Chairmen would go along to the opening of a paper bag if they were invited.” Not really enhancing the dignity of the role or helping the District and its residents.

    Can I also add, Concerned Citizen, that not a single resident has lobbied me directly on this issue, though I’ve been watching the debate via Lichfield Live? (What would we do without LL?!)

  15. Rob

    5th April, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    “Some Chairmen would go along to the opening of a paper bag if they were invited.”
    or a Fire Station.

  16. Nomad

    6th April, 2016 at 6:36 am

    I seen to remember UKIP being the first political group to outline ,the civic car as a waste of taxpayers money

  17. Concerned Citizen

    6th April, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Councillor Woodward – I seem to remember that the Mercury ran some articles about Councillor allowances either late last year or the beginning of this year. The good citizens of Lichfield realise that it is a waste of time lobbying their representatives because Councillors do not listen to their concerns, nothing happens and councillors do not deliver on the major issues. You have only to see the length of time taken to decide about the civic car. Look at the quality of the discussion about the mega-Authorities, look at the amount of time to deliver Friarsgate. Then we turn to the attendance rates of councillors at meetings – as low as 38%! Councillors need to earn respect. Taking months to decide about the civic car which will save less than £10k does not show councillors in a good light.
    Lichfield Councillors need to raise their game and work to earn the respect of the electorate.

  18. Dinsmore

    6th April, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Why can’t councillors’ allowances be paid pro rata? Quarterly payments based on meetings attended?

  19. Frustrated

    6th April, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Concerned,the problem is most people, have no idea who their Councillor is, if a packet of cheese and onion crisps, stood at the council / parliamentary elections under a Conservative banner, it would be elected. So, why do they need to care about us?

    This is where the party system fails us, so badly.

    People vote based on a party, not on the candidate. Voters, have no idea what their Councillors skills are, why are they standing for election, what experience they have. By the time they have left the election booth, voters probably don’t remember their Councillors name anymore.

    I have asked my Councillor to sort things and he admitted things had been done awfully, but nothing he could do. Same with my MP, a few letters but nothing he can do. They have no interest, as they don’t need to. We get the candidate the local party activists decide we are going to get.

    The last constituency I lived in, was amazing. Go to his surgery with a problem. A few days later it was sorted. He would not be fobbed off by anyone. He got things done.

    Sue, I really appreciate that you and a couple of Councillors take the time to update us here.

    What would we do without Lichfield Live? It is a brilliant site to keep us updated on what is going on.

  20. Thornton

    6th April, 2016 at 9:06 am

    @Concerned Citizen. I disagree. If something is worth discussing then its worth spending the amount of time it takes to find the best option. Too many bad decisions are made due to thinking there needs to be something done quickly and that you’re against the clock. Friarsgate is there to improve the City so if something is not right then keep discussing until it is, even if its not completed within our lifetimes.

  21. Rikki Woodruff

    6th April, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Now that is a brilliant idea.

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