Mayor’s transportation costs £40k a year

Ratepayers in Lisburn paid out around £40,000 for their First Citizen to be chauferred, figures show, writes Local Democracy Reporter Donal McMahon.

Former Mayor Stephen Martin
Former Mayor Stephen Martin

Alderman Stephen Martin (Alliance) held the Mayor post last year at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

For the 12 months of office, the Mayor attended 550 functions.

At times the Lisburn North representative was collected and left back to his home address.

The former mayor was contacted, but was not available to comment.

Details relating to the mayor’s car and driver were revealed following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

The details show that an Audi A8, 2017 was bought from Belfast Audi dealership for £30,228 excluding VAT.

The vehicle is changed every 10 years with a potential renewal in 2027 – so costing ratepayers £3,000 a year.

For the financial year 2021/22 it cost £5227.33 to have the car on the road, including tax, insurance, test fee, fuel, tyres, service kit and annual MoT wash.

The mayor has three drivers in total including one principal driver and two casual drivers to provide cover for holidays and other absences.

The main chauffeur is contracted to 37 hours per week with the casual drivers working on average six hours each.

The FoI stated that the main driver was on a NLC scale 5 pay, which last year stood between £22,571 and £24,920.

The council was asked for to provide costs for any over time work carried out by the drivers or the need for agency workers. With a rate for casual drivers of £14/hour the total outlay stands at £8,755.67.

A spokesperson responded: “It would not be appropriate to provide further details relating to the employment arrangements for individual members of staff.

“All permanent posts are advertised.

“The mayor’s driver supports the mayor at receptions and functions as well as providing support to the mayor’s office and Member Services Unit.”

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council was previously reported as also operating a Chrysler Grand Voyager, though this was not identified in the current FoI.

The chair of four councils in Northern Ireland, in discharging their official duties, do not use official vehicles - Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon; Fermanagh and Omagh, Mid-Ulster and Newry, Mourne and Down.