CALLS have been made for Hartlepool Borough Council to stop using a civic car for official duty in a bid to save money.
The civic car is used to transport the chair of the council, Labour councillor Carl Richardson, while he is on official council business across the region.
Resident representative Christine Blakey queried whether the local authority could afford to run the car while savings are being made elsewhere.
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Hartlepool Council has just agreed to make savings worth £6m from the 2012-13 budget.
Speaking at Thursday’s full council meeting, Ms Blakey said: “Why not sell the civic car?
“Times are tough.
“Public transport has been cut yet the council still uses a civic car and a chauffeur to carry senior councillors and officers.
“It is time to get the money out of the Mercedes.”
Mayor Drummond confirmed the car was in fact a Skoda, and was not used by council officers.
He added: “It is at the council’s discretion whether to fund the civic car.
“I do not use it, and senior officers do not use it.
“It is used to transport the chairman to various functions around the region.
“I would suspect it would be cheaper than getting taxis everywhere to the functions that the chairman attends.
“But we are looking at everything, and the civic car will be looked at in the future when the cuts become even deeper.”
Ms Blakey responded: “I understand the need to get to functions, but why should it be at the expense of the taxpayer.”
Mayor Drummond said the budget had been worked on for the past nine months and this was the first time the civic car had been mentioned as a possible saving.
He said he was “loathe” to make last-minute changes to this year’s budget but said it was possible to make in-year savings.
Mayor Drummond said: “If the council want to examine the future of the civic car then that is fine.
“I have no problems with that whatsoever.”