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Council car drove Provost to island breaks

Glasgow’s Lord Provost has been criticised for using a chauffeur-driven car to take him on weekend breaks with his wife.

Bob Winter has admitted using the taxpayer-funded perk to transport him to a holiday home in Bute. A senior source at Glasgow City Council said the civic head was unlikely to continue the practice.

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The Lord Provost was under fire at the weekend after figures released by the local authority showed he helped run up a chauffeur bill of £8324 in April.

On several occasions, records reveal he left taxpayers with a bill of more than £300 for using the service on days when he had no official engagements.

On another day, Winter had use of the Volkswagen Phaeton from 7.15am, at a cost of £377, despite his first engagement starting at 2pm.

All his drop-off points were logged as “as directed”.

The Herald can now reveal that Winter has used a car to go to a family retreat in Bute.

It comes at a time when public officials and civil servants are being urged to take public transport to cut costs.

The Lord Provost and his wife Sheena regularly travel to Rothesay at weekends to stay at a family property.

A council spokesman confirmed Winter has taken a chauffeur-driven car to Wemyss Bay, where he would take the ferry to reach the property. He also said the car, on occasions, has taken the Lord Provost back to Glasgow as well.

Although the records do not show how much a 32-mile car trip to Wemyss Bay would have cost the taxpayer, a car ride by Labour councillor Tommy Morrison to Greenock cost £297.

According to Citylink, a bus return from Glasgow to the ferry link costs £11.30.

A call handler at National Rail Enquiries said a train return between both locations could be purchased for £10.30.

The journeys will raise questions over whether Winter, who has been Lord Provost since 2007, should be able to use the service for personal business.

Guidelines govern the use of the service by councillors, but no rules exist for the Lord Provost. He is also not obliged to declare the car perk on his register of interest.

However, the council has attempted to allay public criticism of the chauffeur service by slashing the fleet from 12 cars to five.

It is understood the guidance for councillors is to be reviewed, while a greater level of information on individual trips is also likely to be recorded.

Winter is not the first Lord Provost to have faced questions over his car use. Former Labour councillor Alex Mosson was criticised when it was revealed he used a vehicle to attend 36 Celtic matches, including away games at St Mirren, Livingston and Liverpool.

James Dornan, the SNP leader on Glasgow City Council, said: “I would be extremely concerned if the accusations of the Lord Provost using council cars to travel to his holiday home are accurate. These cars are not his or any other councillor’s private taxi.”

David Meikle, a Tory councillor, said: “I’m disappointed the Lord Provost has used the taxpayer-funded council car to take him to his holiday home.

“It is now imperative that guidance is drawn up for the Lord Provost. He should not be using the car for personal matters.”

A council spokesman said Winter’s £8324 bill reflected car use by his office, not just the Lord Provost.

He added: “The Lord Provost takes breaks on Bute and almost always travels there in his own car. However, when the Lord Provost’s break has been delayed or disrupted by civic duties, his council car has taken him between Glasgow and the Wemyss Bay ferry terminal.”

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