A LOCAL authority which warned 150 staff they face redundancy has defended spending £31,000 on a new official car.
Stirling Council, which must make cuts of £6.3 million over the next financial year, splashed out on an Audi A8 for its civic figurehead, Provost Mike Robbins, who is a Labour councillor.
The car will also be used by its bailies - councillors who hold specific honorary roles - and other members of the Labour/Conservative administration.
Council officials insist that Audi offers better value than the previous vehicle - a leased Mercedes E Class - and claimed today that it was “on a par” with formal cars used by other councils.
But news of the purchase came as the council announced proposals to double music tuition fees for school pupils and charge nursery children £2 a week for snacks.
A Stirling Council spokesman defended the purchase. “The civic car is available to the Provost, bailies, and other elected members for official duties and the cross-party civic committee fully supported the purchase of a new vehicle last year,” he said.
“The previous civic car was leased over four years nine months at a total cost of £32,398.23 before the lease was terminated in December 2015.
“A replacement vehicle on a par with those used in our sister cities, including Perth and Dundee, was bought secondhand for £31,696.67, including one year’s road tax, as a cheaper option than its predecessor.”
The Audi A8, which costs between £60,000 to £90,000 new, is the most up-market model of the German carmaker’s range and is described as having a “high level of luxury, thanks to exquisite attention to detail and extensive specifications”.
The previous car was priced between £34,000 and £42,000 when bought new.
The council said that the Audi was expected to be used for five years and have a re-sale value at the end of that time of £6000.
The spokesman added: “We are always mindful of the need to be careful with public money, particularly in the current climate.
“This replacement vehicle represents better value for money than its predecessor.”
The decision to purchase the vehicle was made before the council was informed that it would have to make £6 million worth of cuts in 2016/17 - though it did expect at the time it was going to have to save around £3 million.
Up to 150 jobs are likely to be axed before the end of March next year and the council has proposed cutting its vehicle fleet by 20 per cent, saving between £25,000 and £100,000, over the next three to six months.
SNP opposition councillor Alasdair MacPherson said Councillor Robbins had “brass neck”.
Councillor MacPherson said: “He and his Tory coalition partners are in the middle setting a budget in which they will once again slash services to the poor and the vulnerable while he sanctions the purchase of a sports car so that he can swan about the country in it. You could not make it up.”
Four years ago councillors argued over whether or not the Mercedes was an appropriate car for the Provost to use, with budget and job cuts on the horizon.
At the time Lib Dem councillor Ian Brown said the car should be replaced with a Skoda.