Leicestershire council leader David Parsons' car trips would have been £24,000 cheaper by train
More than £24,000 could have been saved had county council leader David Parsons taken the train on trips to London instead of travelling in a chauffeur-driven car, it has emerged.
Figures released by Leicestershire County Council show the Tory politician made 202 return trips to the capital over the past six years in the authority's civic car, costing £280 each time.
Officials calculate it would cost £135 to £160 to make the equivalent trip by rail – between £24,240 and £29,290 less than the cost of the car.
The costs have been published in a report to be considered by the council's corporate governance committee on Friday.
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It is investigating the leader's use of the car after it emerged it had been used at the weddings of his son and daughter as well as trips to the theatre and Tory party political meetings.
Lib Dem deputy leader Dr Sarah Hill said yesterday: "I find it extraordinary that he would choose to use the car for long-distance journeys when public transport would have been cheaper and better for the environment. I believe it sets a poor example."
Among the trips taken were conference visits and visits to Local Government Association meetings.
Coun Parsons told the Leicester Mercury: "I have now given up using the civic car. That was my decision.
"Now I use the train. The simple answer is, officers authorised the use of the car. I was never told how much it cost. Had I known how much cheaper it was to go by train at the time I would have done that."
Coun Parsons could yet face a standards hearing into his used of the car.
Liberal Democrat councillor Bill Boulter has complained that his use of the civic car could amount to a potential breach of the councillor code of conduct.
Last week, Coun Parsons was strongly censured over his travel expenses because he held on to EU cash paid to him for trips to Europe which he should have refunded more promptly to the county council.
A County Hall standards committee said he breached the councillor code of conduct five times. He issued an unreserved apology but has resisted calls to resign.
His Tory colleagues will vote on a motion of no confidence in him when they meet next week.
Yesterday it emerged Coun Parson would not be standing for re-election as chairman of joint local authorities body East Midlands Councils.
The body's executive director, Stuart Young, said: "After our executive board meeting on Friday David Parsons informed me he would not be seeking re-election in July."
Mr Young said he did not say why.
Coun Parsons told the Leicester Mercury: "It has been obvious, following the standards hearing, that I am doing too much."
Coun Parsons is also chairman of the Environment and Housing Board of the Local Government Association (LGA) but said he would be considering that position.
He said: "I feel I need to focus on Leicestershire."
The LGA's Conservative group executive was due to discuss his breaches of the code of conduct today.