Cabinet at Lichfield District Council backs decision to swap chairman’s Jaguar for a Ford Mondeo

A decision to downgrade the civic car has been backed by Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet.

A Ford Mondeo like the one Lichfield District Council is proposing to use for its civic leaders

A Ford Mondeo like the one Lichfield District Council is proposing to use for its civic leaders

The move to switch a Jaguar for a Ford Mondeo is part of a package of reductions aimed at shaving £7,385 off the civic budget.

The local authority revealed that downgrading the vehicle could remove just under £1,000 a year from the cost of transporting the chairman and the vice-chairman to events.

Consideration had also been given to the ditching the chauffeur-driven car altogether – a move which would have saved around £13,830 a year.

Cllr Mike Wilcox

Cllr Mike Wilcox

But Cllr Mike Wilcox, leader of Lichfield District Council, said that keeping the civic role meant a vehicle was needed.

“The current lease has been temporarily extended while we reviewed the overall budget,” he said.

“We have taken into consideration the views of a task force and other parties to come up with a proposal.

“There was a feeling that the civic role was needed and therefore a car is necessary for a number of reasons.

“I believe that we have a duty to ensure that those who are fulfilling the civic duty are being looked after correctly.

“The option of hiring a taxi or limousine would not guarantee the vehicles being available to collect them after a function and when they have an expensive chain to carry that isn’t feasible. The chauffeur helps ensure that security is taken into account too.

“Therefore, the way for us to get value for money is to opt for a lower spec vehicle.”

Other changes would see the introduction of a ‘matrix system’ to assess which functions the council’s civic leaders will attend.

The allowances for the chairman and vice-chairman will also be cut by half if the plans are backed by full council later this month.

Cabinet member for housing and health, Cllr Colin Greatorex, said it was important the civic role was retained.

“The area needs figureheads to represent it at certain events appropriately,” he said.

“While there may be some comparing of notes in the civic ‘chain gang’ when a Mondeo pulls up alongside some of the higher end vehicles, Lichfield District Council is leading on this issue and I have no doubt that other authorities will follow.”

The Labour opposition group said that it was important that the council didn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to civic reform.

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the Labour party on Lichfield District Council, said: “I hope this is a first step towards redefining the role of the chairman fit for the 21st Century and not looking back to what was happening in the 70s and 80s.

“It’s an important role as first citizen of Lichfield District Council but it has been devalued over the years in my view, with all sorts of fripperies that undermine the dignity of the role.

“The task group is to reconvene in 12 months to review this again and I hope we can take further steps forward to meet public expectations of what’s appropriate and what’s not.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

1 Comment

  1. Thornton

    6th April, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Fair enough.