Edinburgh council called on to slash Lord Provost £525,000 budget amid cost of living crisis
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Calls have been made to slash Edinburgh’s Lord Provost’s budget – which includes provisions for luxury cars, entertainment and wine – after it was revealed that the Capital spent more than any other Scottish local authority on limousines for the civic head.
Currently Lord Provost Robert Aldridge has at his disposal two luxury BMW 730D SE cars, as well as a large dedicated staff and a budget for entertaining and wine. A total of £48,847 was forked out over three years on the two luxury BMW diesel models to ferry the Capital’s first citizen or his representatives to events.
The council’s budget for the Lord Provost’s office is £525,000 per year which includes £67,000 for civic hospitality. But SNP councillors said the office should ‘cut it’s cloth’ while people are struggling in a cost of living crisis. Budget plans by the SNP have revealed they would clamp down on spending by the Lord Provost office by £100,000. Instead, they want the cash to pay for taxi services for disabled people who can’t travel on the city’s buses.
Officers had proposed to cut the council’s Taxicard scheme, which enables people with a disability who find it difficult to use buses to take 104 taxi trips per year, to make a saving of £120,000. But Amy McNeese-Mechan, SNP councillor, said money spent on hospitality should be curbed before that for frontline services.
“We know the Lord Provost's civic work is important for Edinburgh but we are in the middle of the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation,” she said. “The SNP joined with other parties to elect Lord Provost Robert Aldridge last May so this is no criticism of him. But residents expect their representatives on the council to set out their priorities clearly in our budget, and we in the SNP are putting frontline services above hospitality for civic leaders and visiting dignitaries during this challenging time. We feel confident this proposal will still allow the Lord Provost to continue extending a warm welcome in his civic role.
“With our citizens feeling the pinch in their heating bills and their basic shopping costs, and with threats to crucial services, it’s only right that we expect the Lord Provost's office to cut its cloth accordingly.”
Fellow SNP councillor Fiona Glasgow added: “The removal of the Taxicard scheme would be terrible for the many people across the city who rely on it for travelling to appointments or getting home with their weekly shop. I don’t think it would go down well with my constituents if councillors backed removing that vital service, which helps people live with some dignity and independence, in favour of protecting spending on luxury cars and wine for entertaining. I hope other parties recognise this and back the SNP’s proposal.”
The City of Edinburgh Council said the budget would be discussed at a special meeting on Thursday 23 February