Conservative led Cornwall Council has spent £5,527,102 on new vehicles in just over two years since it was established according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.
Among the figures released was the revelation that Cornwall Council's planning and regeneration service has spent almost £400,000 on new cars this year alone and that officers in the adult social care department spent more than £235,000 on new cars since the authority was founded in April 2009.
Any authority, particularly a large unitary council like Cornwall, is going to have to spend money on specialist vehicles. But at a time of austerity, it seems incredible that Cornwall's spending on new cars is as high as this, particularly as the Council is trying to cut bus routes for ordinary people at the same time.
We totally support the need to make sure that our fire and rescue service has the most modern and best equipped vehicles to do their job and that mending roads takes specialist equipment. But the vast majority of this spending is not on specialist vehicles but on regular road cars. To spend £400,000 on new cars for planning officers in 2011 alone seems hugely excessive.
I know that many officers use pool cars which work out cheaper in the long run, but how much of this total is for take home cars which are used by a single officer?
Before Cornwall Council cuts more bus services or key staff they need to look at the amount they are spending on new cars. Let's look at extending the life of some of our existing vehicles rather than immediately reaching for the payment card.
In its reply to the FoI request, Cornwall Council claimed that 'Childrens Schools and Families provision also includes the costs of vehicles (minibuses etc) which may have been purchased on behalf of a school and then recharged to them.' The total spending by the CSF department was £633,930.
A total of £1,740,332 spent on 39 specialist vehicles for the Fire and Rescue Service is excluded from the FoI response.
The full details are below (click on each image to see more detail)
The West Briton article on this story is here.