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£700 for two trips by Cumbria police commissioner in chaffeur-driven Mercedes

Nearly £700 of public cash was spent on trips in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes to take Cumbria’s crime commissioner to two night engagements.

Richard Rhodes: Matter raised with Prime Minister

Documents reveal the office of the man overseeing county crimefighting was charged £313 to take Richard Rhodes and his wife to-and-from his home in the south of the county to Rydal Hall at Rydal, Ambleside, in January.

It was also handed another bill of £385 for a trip from home and back to The Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite Lake, in February.

Bosses at Mr Rhodes’ office say these were the only two times a private hire company was used to drive him to a night meeting or speaking engagement – and he stopped this practice once he saw the bill.

Stuart Edwards, chief executive of the Cumbria Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said a driver and car had been hired for Mr Rhodes’ “personal safety”.

This was because of the miles he covered and the hours he was working.

On both occasions a firm marketing itself as a provider of executive vehicles was used. It provided an E-Class Mercedes saloon.

Mr Rhodes was elected to the new post of police and crime commissioner in November and last week published his four-year police plan.

Mr Edwards said: “A pivotal part of the police and crime commissioner’s role is to meet the public and listen to their views on the future policing priorities.

“As part of gaining people’s views the commissioner undertakes a number of evening speaking engagements across the very large geographic county of Cumbria, often finishing late at night and following a busy working day.

“As a result of the long hours the commissioner was working it was decided for personal safety reasons that support would be provided in terms of a driver for some evening functions with long and late return journeys.

“There were only two instances when a private hire company was used to drive Mr Rhodes to an evening meeting or speaking engagement and these both resulted in a travel time of between one-and-half-hours and two hours late at night.

“When the final invoices were received and the commissioner was appraised of the cost he immediately stopped the practice of hiring drivers. A review took place with alternative arrangements now being progressed. The first engagement was a meeting with high-ranking church figures while the second was a speaking engagement. Documents seen by the News & Star show that both times the chauffeur waited at the venue before returning the couple home.

The first job lasted eight hours and thirty minutes while the second clocked in at seven hours.

Mr Rhodes has been provided with a car to carry out his duties and he also used a hire car while waiting for this to be delivered, his office confirmed.

Mr Edwards added: “The commissioner, as expected, spends considerable time out talking to people in the community.

“Again, given the large geographic area of Cumbria, this results in considerable mileage being undertaken. For example the commissioner has in the last two months travelled 3,600 miles.

“The mileage costs have been assessed.

“The most cost effective way has been to provide the commissioner with a car rather than paying the cost of private mileage.

“While waiting for the delivery of a permanent vehicle a hire car was used as a viable alternative.”

Have your say

In response ot Edd asking why here was no investigation into the original misuse of funds,

Presumably because you need to have a 'concern' raised by a Police and Crime Commissioner. Concerns raised by us plebs just don't count!!

Posted by Anon on 24 April 2013 at 23:10

So why no investigation into the original misuse of public funds?

Posted by edd on 24 April 2013 at 16:01

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