A councillor has branded the civic car as “pretentious and costly” as a debate begins over the future of the vehicle.

Lichfield District Council House

Lichfield District Council says around £3,000 a year could be saved if it opts not to renew the civic car when the lease ends.

Previous calls for the vehicle to be ditched have been rejected amid fears over the safety of civic leaders travelling with their gold chains.

Cllr Rob Birch

But Cllr Rob Birch, Labour representative for Boney Hay and Central ward, said the vehicle was no longer a necessary item for the council to fund.

“There is no need for the car – pretentious and costly is how I would sum it up. And what for?

“The security argument is laughable unless the chauffeur is either licensed to carry arms or trained in armed combat.”

Cllr Robert Birch, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Liz Little, Conservative member for Little Aston and Stonnall, said the car was viewed by residents as “an unnecessary accessory”.

“I sat on the task group which looked at this back in 2016 and the reasons for keeping the car then were unfounded, with the main reason being security of chain which could have been mitigated.

“Let’s see what the residents view of this is over this as back in 2016 it was quite clear that the car was seen as an unnecessary accessory.”

Cllr Liz Little, Lichfield District Council

The civic car has been included on a list of potential savings the council could make to help balance the books and plug a potential funding gap in the coming years.

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  1. Many restaurants and pubs outside the city centre with free parking will be rubbing their hands with glee at the extra custom they can expect If evening car parking charges are introduced in the city centre.
    When did you last pay to park at one of the many supermarkets in Lichfield
    We are killing the city centre.

  2. Sell the gold chains and give them costume jewellery instead !!! Ditch the car and use the money to fund a youth club ?

  3. This is a great example of what’s wrong with this Council. Let’s create a great big fuss about a 2016 ford mondeo with a private plate but not sort out the basics, like digital bus station signage, ev charging provision, the concreting 0ver of green belt and I could go on ………

    No wonder the CEO thinks there reactive and focused on irrelevance.!!

  4. The civic car is just one example of a long list of shortcomings. We don’t forgot the other, more important, causes of anger.

    On a wider front we see failings nationally.

    What to believe, Michael Fabricant or the evidence of our own eyes?

  5. It appears that Councillors have no respect for the position of chairman ( first citizens of Lichfield.) You talk of saving £3,000 by loosing civic car but this would be a higher cost by using a taxi , mileage , waiting time etc
    Plus you would have NO control how the driver dresses and loss of a personal service given. What would the council look like turning up in a taxi for Royal visits.

  6. Derek Myat Do you can back this up with a costing ? How many trips does this “first citizen” make a year ? Simple maths would work out what’s best ? I’m sure he’s capable of opening a door himself or is he above that ? Your stuck in the past I’m afraid people are less into tipping their hats at others than they used to be!!!

  7. It would perhaps be a good idea for people to understand the role of Chairman.
    Following 10 years as leader of Lichfield District Council I finished my 20 years on the Council as Chairman.
    The first role is as the Queen’s representative. To understand the role we must go back to the pre COVID time and look at the Chairman’s work programme.
    During my term I visited many organisations including schools, retirement homes and organisations representing the residents of the district, in some cases several in a day.
    I also represented the community at many Civic visits including activities at the National Memorial Arboretum and the Combined Services Centre at Whittington.
    Yes there are Civic Events across the County but these are in a minority compared to the superb work successive Chairmen have undertaken.
    The Civic car is not a perk but an essential tool of the trade.

  8. David Smith – having looked for any mention of a district councillor being the queen’s representative and finding none: could you please post evidence to support your claim.

    Providing effective leadership and strategic direction to the Council would seem to be the role.

  9. The civic car is very much not an essential “tool of the trade”. The essential tools of the trade for meeting people are a warm handshake (pre-Covid), a pleasant demeanour and a genuine interest in others. The transport between appointments where these tools of the trade will be deployed is exactly that – transport. And there is no reason this transport can’t be a self-driven car, a bus, a bicycle or rollerskates.

    “Perk” from “perquisite” – a benefit which one enjoys or is entitled to on account of one’s job or position (Oxford Languages).

    If a chauffeur driven car as transport to appointments doesn’t fit that definition I don’t know what does. It’s a perk for people who feel entitled to it on account of their position. Nothing more, nothing less.

  10. Surely the chairman of LDC is the official representative of the Council?

    As far as I understood it the Lord-Lieutenant is the Queen’s personal representative in the County.

    Whatever their role, neither of them need to be provided with a car (expensive or otherwise) and a driver to do whatever it is they do.

  11. It seems incongruous that the council is considering rate and parking increases to make up shortfalls while still hanging on to the trappings and baubles of power. They should take a step back and look at themselves. What they are there for, who do they represent, what their legacy will be.
    We, the people, should have confidence in those elected to ‘serve’ us. Are they really worthy of that trust?

  12. So councillors and eleven posts on here actually debating an annual saving of £3000, My goodness lichfield will be rich. How shall we spend this windfall ?.

    I just think I’d prefer councillors doing less ‘debating’ and more ‘action’.

  13. @PO – for me it’s not necessarily the magnitude of the potential saving – it’s a proxy for cultural and attitudinal issues. If the chair of the council isn’t prepared to make a sacrifice and give up a chauffeur driven car, why should others take time to sort recycling, pay additional for brown bins, etc? Maybe it’s a gesture but giving up luxuries at a time when there is a funding gap would go some way to demonstrating the council is getting its own house in order before seeking more money from residents, businesses and visitors.

  14. As County Councillor David Smith has entered the fray, I wonder what his view is on another potential cut listed in the financial report we had at Scrutiny namely, “Closure of the Lichfield Shop Mobility Service”?

    The reason I ask is that in 1995/6 he asked the then Labour District Council, and me as Chairman of Environmental and Health services in particular, to take it on as the voluntary organisation that he was supporting could not carry on.

    I feel bad now that I was trying to stop him preventing a debate on the “Bedroom Tax” when he was Chairman as I thought it was only the Lord Lieutenant that represented the Queen in Staffordshire. Explains a number of things now mind.

  15. @Joanne Grange. If I’m understanding your logic correctly then what you are saying is the removal of the civic car is not to reduce the funding gap but to ensure the general public do ‘their’ bit to reduce the funding gap.

    My point is how long will this be debated?. I’m sure you don’t need consultants, at god knows what cost, to identify areas that costs can be saved. Maybe it’s my background in industry, but for cost savings you identify the big hits and implement those first, not address the piffling small savings to convince residents to do ‘their part’. I’ve not yet met an MD that if you say do this, and save some £’s would say ‘no thanks’.

    Can someone not actually make a decision?. Its a simple yes or no about the civic car, not a debate with yes, no, yes, have a meeting, maybe, I don’t know. If people are struggling to actually make a decision then they are in the wrong job.

  16. @PO – I think you missed my point. With my 25+ years experience in industry, latterly as a CFO/FD, I’ve learnt that unless you get the mindset right, the big hit cost savings won’t happen and you will always have a battle to deliver the right outcomes. No executive can possibly know or understand everything that happens in their organisation so they are responsible for the leadership and strategy and have to rely on their staff to deliver those outcomes as part of a wider team.

    In this instance, I’m arguing that having the debate about the civic car is symptomatic of a culture that focuses on the wrong things for the wrong reasons. By not getting our own house in order, by just dealing with things like the civic car, it could be interpreted as the council (as the “leader”) not providing leadership by example to the district as a whole. We could be seen to be sitting back as the fat cats with the fripperies of leadership whilst expecting everyone else to make sacrifices and do the hard work. This will inevitably lead to failure as the actions and words are out of kilter and the council will be perceived as inauthentic and in it just for themselves.

    As I said, the magnitude of the savings in this matter are not material, and certainly if anyone suggests bringing in a consultant to make a decision on this matter I’ll be kicking off. And I agree with you that the decision-making process is painfully show, and it will ultimately depend on how the ruling Conservative group vote en bloc if (when?) it gets to a vote. As the only independent on the council the only positive action I can take is by raising matters in the public realm so that people are aware of what is happening. That way we can collectively put pressure on the leading group to do the right thing.

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