Council questioned over �4.1 million taxi spend

A UNION is questioning a council’s �4.1 million spend on taxis over a 15-month period, suggesting a cheaper transport alternative should have been considered.

At a time when Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) employees are being asked to take a two per cent pay cut, the GMB union is querying the council’s decision to spend �4,091,478 with 37 taxi companies between April 2010 and June 2011.

CBC has said the money was “overwhelmingly” for essential transport for vulnerable children and adults who have educational needs and other requirements that the council is obliged to provide.

However, Warren Kenny, GMB’s regional officer for Central Bedfordshire, said: “A question that arises is whether in the current climate of austerity it might be cheaper for the council to provide this transport direct in house with its own fleet and drivers.”

He also asked how much of this money was spent on taxis for councillors and senior officers, as well as how the contracts are issued and whether all firms in the area were given a chance to bid for the work.

Cllr Maurice Jones, CBC’s deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources, said: “We are acutely conscious of providing value for money and are currently in the process of re-tendering all of the routes for our service users and looking at alternative service delivery methods.”