By Christine Lavelle
WEST Lothian Council has agreed to sell off its private registration plate worth £7000 after giving in to calls from taxpayers.
Officials at the council said the move will send out the right message to staff and the community, as Scotland’s local authorities struggle with a debt of over £9 billion.
Council leader Peter Johnston said retaining the ASX 1 plate is no longer a priority, and he also announced plans to get rid of the chauffeur driven Volvo S80.
He said: “We’ve said from the beginning that no stone can be left unturned in our quest to find vital savings in the face of a £60 million budget shortfall.
“Councillors must lead by example and we will be moving to approve these changes at the council executive in early November.”
But other cash-strapped councils have refused to follow the example; even though half of Scotland’s local authorities own the prestige number plates – some of which are believed to be the most valuable ever issued in the UK.
Glasgow City Council owns two registrations which are both valued at up to £500,000, and the City of Edinburgh Council also owns a BMW 730d with a plate valued anywhere in the region of £100,000 and £500,000.
And the ES 1 plate on the Jaguar Sovereign used by John Hulbert, provost of Perth and Kinross, is thought to be worth around £150,000.
West Lothian Council’s move to cash in on assets has been welcomed by groups campaigning for less waste in the public sector, but Emma Boon, from Taxpayer’s Alliance, said it was time the other authorities did the same.
She said: “While it’s great that West Lothian are selling their number plate and getting rid of their civic car, it’s disappointing that other Scottish councils are yet to follow suit.
“In these tough financial conditions councils must find significant savings.
“It would be unfair to expect taxpayers to continue to fund a civic car and it’s disgraceful for councils to cling on to these luxuries at a time when taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet.”
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “Services have yet to finalise their proposed savings for the coming year.”
And officials at the City of Edinburgh Council said the local authority would not be putting its plates up for sale because they were of “historical value to the city”.
Midlothian Council’s Rover 75 has the plate SY 0, with an estimated value of £50,000.
A spokesperson said: “There are no plans to change the civic car provision in the near future and consideration has not been given to changing its number plate.
“The SY 0 plate is part of Midlothian’s heritage and an asset which grows in value every year.
“The vehicles are not just used by council dignitaries but are also essential for guests including visiting royalty and important businesses.”