Northern Ireland Councils Criticised for £5m Vehicle Hire Bill

Council spend is a subject that is always hitting the headlines, with taxpayers eager to learn where their tax deductions are being spent.

Just today, it has been revealed that councils in Northern Ireland have spent £5m on rental vehicles in recent times; a figure that many believe to be completely absurd.

Causeway Coast and Glens were the biggest spenders of the area, with their rental fees accounting for almost half of the eye-watering £5m sum. According to the statistics, they forked out close to £2.3M on rental vehicles over the course of the past 5 years.

Following them as the second-biggest spenders were Belfast council, parting with just under £1m over the last three years.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Mid Ulster council who spent a respectable £20,000 on rental vehicles in 48 months.

Such information was required under a Freedom of Information request, seeing 11 councils participate. Though all sharing information covering a different number of years, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough council declined, sharing no details whatsoever on how much they have spent or are spending on transport hire services.

SDLP assembly member Colin McGrath, who was responsible for gathering and presenting this data, felt the £5m sum to be ‘astounding’, being concerned with the varying rates paid by each council as well as the frequency such services were being used. Advising Northern Ireland’s authorities to invest in their own fleet, he said the following:

“These figures are astounding. This is dead money – money that is spent hiring vehicles is money that is not being invested in council fleets long term,” the South Down MLA said.

“The whole purpose and remit of the Review of Public Administration was for there to be a consistent and cost-effective approach to public spending with a view to saving the public purse – not draining it.”

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