SCOTTISH ministers have been accused of using the country’s most “expensive delivery service” after it was revealed documents are delivered by chauffeur-driven cars.
Government cars, meant for transporting officials and ministers, were used on 308 occasions solely to transfer official documents between April 2016 and April 2017.
On June 10 last year, papers were taken from St Andrews House , Edinburgh, and dropped of at a service station in Stirling – racking up 70 miles.
On June 17 documents were transported from the same building to a minister staying at the “Crowne Plaza Hotel” – however it has not been disclosed which city this hotel was in.
On June 23 documents were taken from the St Andrew’s House and conveniently dropped off to a minister attending the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston, near Edinburgh.
The expensive car then made a second trip to the Royal Highland Show the following day to drop off more documents.
The documents, obtained through a freedom of information request, also reveal how ministers sent documents from St Andrews House to the government office in Glasgow’s Atlantic Quay six times – resulting in a 90 mile round trip each time.
The FOI response does not disclose how much each trip cost but earlier this year it was revealed how the Scottish Government spent more than £1m transporting ministers between 2015 to 2016.
The expensive courier service has been criticised by opposing political and taxpayer campaigning groups who have described the usage as “suspicious”.
Maurice Golden, Chief whip and business manager for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “The SNP seem to have discovered Scotland’s most expensive delivery service.
“People will be suspicious about this method of tranSporting documents and will want to know why cheaper ways aren’t being investigated.
“Everyone appreciates sensitive documents have to be taken from A to B quickly and securely but the Scottish Government also has a responsibility to use taxpayers’ cash responsibly.”
James Kelly, MSP and Labour’s Business Manager in Holyrood, said: “Many people will feel this is excessive use of ministerial cars.
“In some unforeseen incidents it may be avoidable to deliver documents to ministers this way but almost a journey a day will strike most people as far too much.”
John O’Connell, chief executive at Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Ministers benefit from access to a car service that ferries them around and takes them to and from work at considerable expense to taxpayers.
“This is a service almost none of us can afford for ourselves so to find out this service is being abused by sending only documents in expensive government cars is deeply upsetting to those of us paying for it.
“These document-only trips should cease immediately and ministers should consider how essential these cars are considering the flagrant misuse.”
The Government Car Service in Scotland (GCS) is supposed to be used to provide transport for members of the Scottish Cabinet and Ministers, Ministers of other UK Administrations while in Scotland, the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General and the Permanent Secretary
A Scottish Government spokesman today (TUE) said: “Every effort is made to minimise the use of ministerial cars for transporting documents, and we are currently trialling new measures for the electronic delivery of secure material – however, it remains necessary on occasion to deliver physical copies to Ministers at their home or constituency address.
“In the majority of cases, this is done via the government’s internal mail system.
“When time or business constraints make this impossible, the Government Car Service is used to ensure urgent documents are delivered on time.”