A ROW has broken out at Bolsover District Council amid claims the authority spent £27,000 on a new ‘luxury’ car for use by its chairman.
Green Party councillor Duncan Kerr, one of only five non-Labour members at the authority, says the seven-seater Ford Galaxy with tinted windows was purchased without any approval by elected councillors.
And the Whitwell councillor claims he has been inundated with calls of support from ‘amazed and outraged’ residents since using the Freedom of Information Act to access details about the car’s purchase.
But his allegations were rejected this week by Coun Eion Watts, of Bolsover Labour Group, who said Coun Kerr was only interested in ‘scoring political points and furthering his political career’.
He said the new vehicle was simply an upgrade of the pool car that is part of the authority’s corporate fleet and not a new civic car for the chairman at all.
Coun Kerr said this week that buying the car was unfair at a time when the council is closing public toilets and ending Saturday openings of its contact centres to save cash. And after it has just made cuts in the mileage rates paid to staff.
“The decision to buy such as a grand car doesn’t make economic or environmental sense and certainly doesn’t show that we are all in this together,” Coun Kerr said.
“We all have to economise and there is no reason why the chairman can’t use his/her own car for functions.
“The people of Bolsover do not expect their Council Tax to be spent on a luxury taxi.”
Coun Watts claimed the ‘better, more cost efficient vehicle’ would be used for a variety of purposes by both employees and elected members.
“We have absolutely nothing to hide, unlike our Green Party colleague who has again failed to tell people that he was the only one out of 37 councillors who voted against a 0 per cent increase in our Council Tax recently,” Coun Watts said.