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City Hall U-turn over spending of £70k on new Lord Mayor car

By Rebecca Black

Belfast councillors have completed a U-turn on plans to invest £70,000 in a new luxury car for the Lord Mayor.

Instead, councillors last night authorised City Hall officers to further examine cheaper options - such as a sponsored car.

The current official car is a prestigious BMW 7 series which was bought in 2008.

The council decided earlier this year that the Lord Mayor's car needed replaced.

But in September the Belfast Telegraph revealed that £70,000 had been set aside to replace the vehicle.

Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon would not comment on whether she thought a new luxury car was needed for her role.

Councillors at this point were examining a number of options including finding a company to sponsor it and leasing.

Their remit was to find a new car "of a type commensurate with the prestigious nature of the office of Lord Mayor".

The strategic policy and resources committee last month considered an update report outlining a number of options.

Last night the council voted to endorse the committee decision to ask council officials to investigate less expensive options.

It agreed to "authorise officers to assess further the cost-effectiveness of the council entering into an agreement for the acquisition of a replacement vehicle on either a sponsored or a part-subsidised basis."

When this process has been completed the committee will evaluate the full range of options. Any decision must be endorsed by a meeting of the full council.

The car is mainly used to transport the Lord Mayor to appointments during her year in office, but is also used by the deputy Lord Mayor Maire Hendron, presiding councillor of the new super council Deirdre Hargey and her deputy, Ruth Patterson.

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