The campaign group says Barnsley’s total spending on civic cars was £58,944.55 compared to £44,569.52 in Rotherham, £32,030.86 in Doncaster, and £9,991.30 in Sheffield. Barnsley has two civic cars a BMW 7 Series identified by its ‘THE 1’ number plate, and a Skoda Superb.
The figures include £53,000 on the costs of the cars, £4,919.44 on fuel, and £1,025.11 on maintenance.
The Tax Payers’ Alliance says councils should sell off such cars and encourage civic leaders to use their ‘own method of transport’ or cheaper alternatives.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers are tired of hearing local authorities say they have no money left when there are still instances of excessive spending.
“Some travel will of course be necessary to conduct duties but families who struggle to pay their council tax bill will roll their eyes at the thought of their hard-earned money being spent on Bentleys and Jaguars for politicians to attend functions.
“Every penny wasted on excessive travel expenses is money that could be going towards social care or bin collections.”
But former Mayor of Barnsley John Parkinson told the Chronicle the role of the mayor was still important and called the Tax Payers’ Alliance report a ‘cheap shot’ at local government.
“I’ve read the report of the Tax Payers’ Alliance and I must say it’s the most naive and uneducated report that I have seen from this organisation,” said Mr Parkinson, a former councillor who was mayor in 2009/10.
“Even when accepting they are an ultra-right think tank, to say the mayoralty should drive their own vehicles in true Conservative fashion is to assume that every councillor can drive, and that every councillor has their own car, and can afford their own car.
“They have no knowledge of the work the mayoralty does in whatever area they live.
“It’s clear that the Tax Payers’ Alliance will not be happy until all public services are in the hands of the private sector. You only have to look at their financial backers to see what they’re all about.
“To say in their words the mayoralty is a ‘mundane and little cared for function’ is at the very least disrespectful but I wouldn’t expect any less from this organisation.
“I can’t recall exactly how many functions my wife Linda and I attended when I was Mayor but quite frankly it would have been impossible to carry them all out if I had to drive myself.
“I can only really speak for my own mayoral year but I think people and groups really value a visit from the mayor, it’s still a very important role in a town.
“Countless times people told me how fondly they remembered the visit from the mayor when they were at school.
“It means a lot to groups and organisations and it’s money well spent.”
A council spokesman said money had been saved by purchasing the vehicles rather than leasing, and through running only one BMW rather than the previous two.
“We don’t have a chauffeur service. The Mayor’s attendant chauffeurs the Mayor as part of his wider duties in supporting the Mayor at events, for which the attendant has often made the organisation arrangements, advising on protocol, giving talks to visitors and other work associated with the council’s civic functions.
“The position of mayor is a very important one for the community and every year they and their deputy attend hundreds of events, helping to promote local community organisations, support local businesses and raise thousands of pounds for local charities.”