The civic car is an essential tool of the trade rather than a perk, a former chairman of Lichfield District Council has said.

Lichfield District Council House
Lichfield District Council House

It was revealed last week that the vehicle could be ditched as part of money-saving plans.

Current councillors have criticised the spend on the civic car, with one branding it “pretentious and costly”.

But David Smith, who was chairman of the council in 2014-15, said people had misunderstood the value of the vehicle and the civic role.

David Smith during his time as chairman of Lichfield District Council
David Smith during his time as chairman of Lichfield District Council

“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.”

David Smith, former chairman of Lichfield District Council

But Cllr Joanne Grange, independent representative for Chadsmead ward, said there was no reason why a chauffeur-driven car was required.

“The civic car is very much not an essential ‘tool of the trade’. The essential tools of the trade for meeting people are 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 comes from perquisite, meaning a benefit which one enjoys or is entitled to on account of one’s job or position. 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.”

Cllr Joanne Grange
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