Scotland’s largest local authority has defended its decision to accept a Rolls-Royce from an anonymous donor for use as the Lord Provost’s official car.
Glasgow City Council faced criticism after it revealed the luxury vehicle, which would cost around £235,000 new, was handed over by an unnamed benefactor.
The two-year-old Rolls-Royce Ghost will be used by city representatives for appropriate civic duties as well as VIPs requiring transportation.
But one Labour MP claimed it was “Dickensian” to have the Lord Provost being chauffeured in such an expensive vehicle while the local authority was faced with tough spending choices due to shrinking budgets.
The city council is run by a minority SNP administration after the Nationalists ended more than four decades of municipal Labour rule at last year’s local elections.
Council leader Susan Aitken said no one in her administration had involvement with the decision and that she would not be using the car. “No additional public money has or will be spent,” she said in a tweet. “I understand it was a Labour councillor who facilitated the donation.”
The donation was revealed in an official council press release. Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “On behalf of the city, I’d like to thank the donor for their civic generosity and philanthropy. I want Glasgow to show its best face to the world and this gift will help us do that. It’s a show-stopping car and a tremendous asset.”
But Paul Sweeney, who represents Glasgow North East, called for the Rolls-Royce to be auctioned off to raise funds for cash-strapped local services.
“It’s Dickensian to have the Lord Provost of Glasgow swanning around in a new 8 mpg chauffeur driven Rolls Royce while local council services are cut by SNP austerity,” he said. “Nursery fees doubled and free swimming for kids the latest cuts. Auction it off to fund services for Glaswegians.”
Asked by The Scotsman why the benefactor had not been named, a council spokeswoman said: “When the donation was offered, it was made clear the donor wished to remain anonymous. The chief executive of the council personally carried out a diligence exercise; looking into the donation and donor. She was of the view that there was no conflict and that it was to the city’s benefit to accept the gift. On that basis, she was content to agree to the donor’s request for anonymity.
“This donation has not cost the council anything and will save it money. Clearly, it would not be appropriate to buy a car like this but having received it as a donation there will be occasions when it is appropriate to use it.”