By Cara Sulieman & Christine Lavelle
TRADE union workers have hit out at a cash-strapped Scots council’s plan to spend £23,000 on a replacement car for their Provost.
Inverclyde Council have published a public contract looking for a replacement for their current car – a classic 16-year-old Ford Granada Ghia.
The budget is large enough to buy Provost Michael McCormick a range of top class motors including a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes CLC Coupe.
Both are a far cry from the current model, which is set to be auctioned off once a replacement is found.
The big spend comes as the cash-strapped council prepares to cut their work force in an attempt to plug a £33.7 million funding gap over the next three years.
The personalised number plate – VS0 – will remain with the council and adorn the new car.
But Robin Taggart, a service conditions officer for UNISON, said it was an appalling use of money at a time when jobs face the axe.
He said: “Civic chauffer driven cars, as far as we are concerned, are an unaffordable luxury in this financial climate.
“The fact that Inverclyde Council is considering purchasing a new car costing £23,000 while at the same time looking to cut jobs and services sends out completely the wrong message to staff and users of services.
“Elected members and senior officials are perfectly capable of using their own cars or public transport to get from one place to another.
“I think it is a scheme which has always been open to abuse and the Council should scrap any plans to invest in it any further.”
Scotland’s local authorities are said to be struggling with a combined debt of over £9 billion.
In a bid to save cash, Inverclyde Council says it is willing to consider any cars that are up to a year old.
The only specifications are that the car must be a black, four door saloon which can seat up to five people “comfortably”.
It also has to have carbon emissions below 150g per km –- giving them an annual road tax bill of £120 a year.
During the summer, Inverclyde announced a number of cuts to deal with funding crisis.
They have already announced that they will be axing up to 500 jobs in the next three years and are looking at other cuts with the aim of saving over £20 million by 2014.
A spokesman for the council said: “A budget of £23,000 has been allocated to find a suitable replacement for the existing car which is a 16 year old Ford Granada.
“Specifications are for a black four door saloon with a dark interior capable of sitting five adults including the driver in comfort.
“It can be new or up to a year old but must have carbon emissions below 150g per km.
They added: “Generally the car is available to the Provost and his deputy but can be used by other elected members when appropriate.”
Last week, West Lothian Council revealed its intention to sell-off a private registration plate worth up to £7,000.
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.