Labour councillors are furious after the Conservatives voted for the Deputy Lord Mayor of Chester to be driven around in a traditional gas-guzzling Jaguar.
City of Chester Charter Trustees on the Labour side wanted to make sure the civic car was consistent with the council’s evolving low emission strategy aimed at cutting pollution.
And previously the trustees agreed to lease a black 1.6-litre Hyundai Ioniq hybrid car but the issue had to be revisited ‘in light of the preferred vehicle not being available’.
Labour says Tory trustees used their majority during a secret part of the meeting to insist the Deputy Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Chester must be driven to official engagements in a 2-litre Jaguar XE Prestige four-door automatic.
He said: “We shouldn’t be having this conversation. They have chosen one of the most expensive, polluting and clearly ostentatious cars. Oxford has a Lord Mayor and they said ‘Isn’t it about time we should be doing the right thing and not just saying the right thing?’ so they changed their car for a Toyota Prius.”
Cllr Bryan loves the history of the borough's civic roles but hates the ‘pomposity’
Last night’s (November 2) decision to choose a Jaguar is in line with a report that went before the last meeting of City of Chester Charter Trustees.
While the Lord Mayor of Chester is chauffeured around in a Bentley, the report reveals the civic team’s current second car is a Vauxhall Insignia. Several replacements were considered within the 2017-18 budget, set at a maximum £34,600 for cars and fuel. Comparisons were drawn with neighbouring authorities including Warrington which has an Audi A6, Liverpool which uses a Mercedes and Wrexham with its Skoda Superb.
The report stated: “The sub-committee considered all of the quotes and thought that whilst a hybrid would be desirable, it was felt that they were not yet tried and tested sufficiently enough that they could be confident that it was the best car for the purpose.
“They felt that improvements to electric/hybrid cars were being made all the time and that the lease of such a car should be re-visited in three years when any new lease would be due for renewal. The sub-committee felt that, based on the remaining quotes, a three-year lease of a Jaguar XE saloon was their preferred option and this is the recommendation that they are making to the trustees.“
The Chronicle approached Tory deputy leader Cllr Margaret Parker to seek the Conservative perspective but Cllr Parker said she was not allowed to talk as the decision was taken behind closed doors. She admonished Cllr Bryan for breaking the rules in speaking out.