There has been a sharp rise by Welsh Government moving documents in official cars.
Despite moves to cut traffic generated pollution including a 50mph limit on parts of the M4 and other trunk roads in Wales, hundreds of trips have been made over three years, including a very sharp rise this year, by Welsh Labour-led Government-owned vehicles to just transport documents without a minister inside.
The trips were uncovered by a Welsh Conservative Freedom of Information request.
A total of 242 trips transporting official documents, without a minister present, were made between January 2017 and January 2020, with the highest number of trips – 151 – recorded in 2019-2020.
The FoI also revealed that the cost of employing 12 ministerial drivers to drive 12 vehicles totalled £453,369.83 between 2019-20, with an additional £19,847 in the same period spent on maintenance.
Shockingly, this is an increase of £136,869 a year compared to £316,500 in 2016-27 for the same number of drivers and cars – more than a 40% increase.
The Welsh Government currently owns 13 Vehicles that are used by Ministers, including 3 Electric Vehicles and 1 Hybrid Vehicle. This is expected to reduce to 12 in the current financial year and further replacement of diesel vehicles with low emission vehicles are planned for the same period.
Responding to the FoI findings, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency, Angela Burns MS, said, “Time and time again, the Welsh Labour-led Government has reached for the Welsh taxpayers’ cheque books to fund, quite frankly, needless things.
“It was simply not necessary to expect the taxpayer to fork out an extra £136,000 this year compared to 2016, especially when a hundred extra journeys are made without a minister inside.
“This shocking revelation comes despite the Welsh Labour-led Government declaring a climate emergency, where its ‘pledge’ has clearly fallen way short off the mark – and, in reality, has amounted to just hot air.”
“Words alone from this government are not enough in achieving important environmental aims and putting an end to wasting vast sums of public money, as our recent FOI has discovered.
“Worryingly, if more than £450,000 can be spent on run ministerial vehicles in just a single year, I dread to think how much will be wasted by next year.”