Councillors urged to swap cars for green alternative

Councillors are being encouarged to use public transport to get to meetings
Councillors are being encouarged to use public transport to get to meetings
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PLANS have been unveiled for councillors to go green and travel to meetings using public transport.

An independent panel which examines members’ allowances believes Portsmouth City Council should encourage people to swap cars for buses.

To do this, the panel suggests the authority gives out an interest-free loan for an annual bus ticket, to cover the cost of going to and from the civic offices for business.

The scheme, which is already open to council employees – which councillors are not – would include a substantial discount for a pass with Stagecoach Bus and First Hampshire.

The proposal will be debated by the council’s governance and audit and standards committee tomorrow, and it will go forward to a meeting of the full council on Tuesday.

Conservative councillor Donna Jones, who is on the committee, said it wouldn’t be a good idea as it would be similar to councillors being ‘in debt’ to the council.

‘A councillor should be getting themselves to work,’ she said.

‘Most councillors live around the city and the civic offices anyway.

‘Councillors shouldn’t 
be borrowing money from 
a local authority to pay for 
it.

‘As a councillor, you put yourself forward for election because you want to give something back.

‘You can’t be in debt with your own council when you are making budgetary decisions.’

Councillors wanting to take part would have to go through an eligibility process, and if accepted, they would pay back the loan over the year.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, said he would be surprised if many took up the scheme – but said the more people who use a bus and take traffic off the road, the better.

‘If you are a member of staff, you get an interest-free loan, and this would be doing the same with councillors,’ he said.

‘It’s not a free bus pass.’

Other changes could include paying councillors who put a child or elderly person in care when they are on council business a 
rate of £6.10 an hour, to cover 
the cost of how long they’re in for.

This would replace the maximum limit they can claim currently of £1,000 a year.