Wigan taxi drivers' anger over Blackpool firm running Mayor's car
Taxi drivers in Wigan are furious after it emerged the mayor is being ferried around in a private hire vehicle licensed near Blackpool.
Cabbies from the town say it sends out completely the wrong impression for the first citizen’s car to have a badge in the front windscreen with Wyre Council’s name on it.
They are also unhappy that £20,000 is being paid out each year by the town hall for a company to provide the car and its drivers for the mayor’s attendance at functions.
The local authority said the arrangement is cost effective and was put in place following a tendering process.
But that has failed to placate the hackney carriage drivers who have a long list of questions about how the situation arose.
Anger rose in the black cab community after a large black Volvo saloon with the distinctive number plate AEK1 was spotted bearing the badge at the Leigh Sports Village (LSV).
Eddie Earley, a hackney carriage driver and former local RMT union rep, said: “I think it is totally unacceptable. The lads have been talking about it and they think it is disgraceful too.
“I was unaware it had been put out to tender and I cannot understand why it is being run like this.
“The council can come out with stuff about it being cost effective all it wants but there’s a private hire badge on the front windscreen and our crest on the front of the car. It doesn’t look right.
“I would like to know who tendered for this job and if the council asked Wigan firms if they wanted to take it on.
“If the council has sold its vehicle and that car doesn’t belong to them then it shouldn’t have the mayor’s crest on it.
“At the very least it should be executive travel with the badge being carried in the boot.
“This has caused a lot of ill-feeling among the lads. They think it just seems wrong.”
The cost of the chauffeuring arrangements was revealed earlier this year by right-wing pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
However, the council defended the way it pays for the mayor to get to functions.
Paul McKevitt, deputy chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “We have a contract with a provider following a tender process to offer cost-effective chauffeuring service to the mayor.
“This includes the use of a suitable car to take the mayor to a variety of events, helping community groups and schools mark their special events with an official visit from the first citizen of the borough.”