Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Car-share plans on the right track

The Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is on the right road in suggesting that his colleagues should make better use of their transport by sharing official cars.

Not for the first time, the minister is |leading from the front. He is facing the grim prospect of major cuts in the Northern Ireland budget due to the necessary impositions from Westminster.

His primary role is to ensure that those cuts will not be as Draconian as feared, and he must protect as far as he can the special place of Northern Ireland as it emerges from the decades of the Troubles to consolidate the peace process. Nevertheless, we should still be prepared to tighten our belts considerably.

However, if the frontline is to be cut we must also see evidence that ministerial extravagance is also curbed. The costs of running a full transport service are staggering.

The cost of replacing the current cars would be around £250,000. The additional running costs amount to an estimated £325,000, and when the current warranties run out, this could lead to increased maintenance costs.

There are no simple answers, but Sammy Wilson is right to suggest that ministers should not use official cars for travelling to and from work, if they live within a 30-mile radius of Stormont Castle.

The obvious answer is to ensure that ministers share their transport, and this ought not to prove difficult with goodwill all round.

The symbolism is as important as the reality. Members of the public are being asked to face stringent cuts, and they are looking to Stormont to share the pain.

Power-sharing is important, but so too is transport-sharing, and any other measures which can help to save money in these difficult times.

Belfast Telegraph

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