Scottish councils spend £11m on cars for staff in three years

One of Edinburgh City Council's official cars. Local authorities across Scotland spent almost 11 million on pool cars over the last three financial years
One of Edinburgh City Council's official cars. Local authorities across Scotland spent almost 11 million on pool cars over the last three financial years
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CASH-STRAPPED Scottish councils have spent £11 million on cars for their employees, new figures have revealed.

The pool cars, often small hatchbacks such as Peugeots and Vauxhall Corsas, are used by a variety of departments to allow workers to travel to and from council jobs and rack up thousands of miles a year.

Local authorities use a combination of traditional petrol and diesel cars, but some are also introducing electric cars.

The costs come from fuelling the vehicles, taxing them and keeping them roadworthy.

After all 32 local authorities were asked, they revealed they had run up a spend of £10,703.508 over the last three financial years.

But the true cost to the taxpayer could still be higher after several councils failed to divulge information under freedom of information laws.

The spend has been criticised by campaign groups and politicians who point out local government is facing yet more budget cuts but councils insist the cars save money.

West Lothian Council were the biggest spenders, running up a bill of £2,490,198 over the three year period between 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15.

South Lanarkshire Council were the second highest spender, splashing out £1,823,992 on their fleet of cars which were used over the same three year period.

Neighbouring North Lanarkshire ran up a bill of £654,230.

Perth and Kinross spent £1,212,020.58 on pool cars that were used by housing and community care departments and the environment service.

Stirling Council spent £1,200,016 and bosses at Dumfries and Galloway paid out £1,118,571.39

Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Cameron Buchanan MSP said: “There will always be a need for local authorities to use pool cars but the public will no doubt be shocked to hear so much of their hard-earned cash is going on these vehicles.

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“With resources tight, councils should be picking the most economical mode of transport, especially in cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh where it is often just as quick to get around on public transport.

“Local authorities are always bleating on about saving money, which is clearly not happening when it comes to pool car use.”

Scotland’s biggest local authority Glasgow, which often ranks as the highest spending council, provided figures showing they spent just £141,137 on their pool cars.

And in the capital, Edinburgh City Council spent £101,253.20 on their vehicles.

At the bottom of the pile West Dunbartonshire paid out just £11,979.18, while East Ayrshire spent £8281.

Nine councils including Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Fife failed to respond to requests for information, while East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and Orkney said they did not operate pool cars.

A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “We have made over £1m of savings each year on essential travel costs since 2010 through our Green Transport Strategy, with the introduction of low-emission pool cars a major part of this.

“The cost of using pool cars is significantly less than the mileage and other costs of staff using their own vehicles to deliver vital services, so spend on pool cars provides overall savings to the council.”

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