Burnley Borough Council has defended the costs of its mayoral car following criticism from the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
The leased car, an Audi A6 bearing the valuable number plate HG1, has cost the borough £21,687 over the last three years.
This figure included a lease of £18,263, fuel costs of £1,119 and maintenance costs of £2,303.
Burnley’s costs were the fourth most expensive in Lancashire behind Wyre, Lancaster, Fylde and Blackburn with Darwen.
Former Burnley Mayor Howard Baker, who held the ceremonial chains last year but no longer sits on the council, defended the costs and said the car was an integral part of the Mayor’s civic duties.
He said: “I think we have become a lot more careful with our spending. I remember the borough having a Rolls Royce and a Daimler as Mayor’s cars when I was growing up.
“I think the car is important in allowing the Mayor to perform his civic duties which involves supporting charities and other good causes in the borough.”
Independent pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance recently criticised all local authorities for their spending on mayoral cars and suggested that councils should seek cheaper forms of transport.
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.
“40% of councils didn’t lease or buy cars, so all other local authorities should follow that example and encourage civic leaders to use cheaper forms of transport. Every penny wasted on excessive travel expenses is money that could be going towards social care or bin collections.”
A Burnley Council spokesman said: “The Mayor acts as an ambassador for the borough, attending around 300 engagements a year meeting individuals, charities, businesses and other groups.
“The council currently leases the Mayor’s car as leasing, rather than buying, is a more cost-effective way of providing a car for official duties.
“That lease is due to expire next year and the council will re-examine the arrangements at that time.”