“Brazen” Bradford councillors have been criticised for claiming more than £16,000 in car parking expenses – despite being able to park for free at Council-run car parks.
Between April 2012 and December last year, 71 councillors claimed a total of £16,419.78 between them for parking in the NCP car park on Hall Ings – across the road from City Hall.
A further two councillors – the Council’s deputy leader Councillor Imran Hussain (Lab, Toller) and Coun Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) – were issued with a parking permit for the privately-operated NCP, at a cost of £945 each for the same period.
There are several Council-run car parks nearby.
As part of a review looking at the amount of money spent on councillors, the local authority has now decided to withdraw the NCP permits from the two councillors. Meanwhile, the long-established practice of paying the parking expenses of councillors who use the NCP is also “under review”.
Dia Chakravarty, political director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Bradford residents will be astonished at this sheer and brazen waste of their money by councillors. To spend that amount of residents’ cash on parking charges, particularly when local taxpayers have already paid for the Council-run free parking just around the corner, is outrageous and shows a complete lack of regard for those footing the bill.
“If the Council has so much spare cash to waste it should return it to the residents in tax cuts.”
The figures do not reveal how much each councillor claimed. Nor is a record kept of which councillors use Council-run car parks, and how often. For the 2012/2013 financial year, councillors claimed £10,403.28. So far this financial year £6,016.50 has been claimed.
Seventeen councillors are said to have not made any claims. They are: Keith Dredge (Lab, Keighley West); Sinead Engel (Lab, Clayton and Fairweather Green); David Gray (Lib Dem, Bolton and Undercliffe); Chris Greaves (Ind, Wharfedale); Council leader David Green (Lab, Wibsey); Vanda Greenwood (Lab, Windhill and Wrose); Alun Griffiths (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley); Susan Hinchcliffe (Lab, Windhill and Wrose); Chris Reid (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley); David Robinson (Ind, Wyke); Alexander Ross-Shaw (Lab, Windhill and Wrose); Malcolm Slater (Lab, Keighley East); Val Slater (Lab, Royds); Andrew Thornton (Lab, Royds); Alan Wainwright (Lab, Tong); Dorothy Wallace (Lib Dem, Eccleshill); and Kevin Warnes (Green, Shipley).
A Bradford Council spokesman said: “The NCP is only used when the other car parks are full. For some councillors, who are in the city centre for Council business on a very regular basis and who have responsibilities that can mean they have to come to City Hall at short notice, access to parking in the NCP is necessary.
“The figures for parking at the NCP and the parking permits are taken over almost a two-year period.”
Council leader Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey) said he used the bus. He said: “Councillors, by and large, only use the NCP when other car parks are full. But whether it is something that will continue is under review.”
In terms of nearby Council-run car parks, Sharpe Street has 98 spaces, Jacobs Well 198, the Crown Court has 180, while Radwell Drive has 105.
Coun Hawkesworth said she was given the NCP pass several years ago for safety reasons. She said: “I had a couple of cars vandalised before so I was given a permit that enabled me to go into the multi-storey NCP. For a considerable length of time I was coming into the city centre on a daily basis.
“Recently I wasn’t aware the pass was being allocated on the same basis. I thought it was only being charged each time I went in. When I realised the expense of the ticket I gave it back because it wasn’t the best use of money.”
Coun Hussain was unavailable for comment.