County leaders outline green credentials

PRESSURE is growing on Suffolk environment chief Eddy Alcock over his decision to use a gas-guzzling muscle car after a high-level colleague outlined his own green credentials.

PRESSURE is growing on Suffolk environment chief Eddy Alcock over his decision to use a gas-guzzling muscle car after a high-level colleague outlined his own green credentials.

The Evening Star revealed on Friday that Mr Alcock has been driving a 3.5 litre Nissan 350Z Roadster to and from council meetings and racked up close to 10,000 car miles in the space of 12 months on expenses.

Mr Alcock has come in for harsh criticism from environmentalists and political opponents alike but now signs of concern at the revelations have emerged from within Suffolk County Council's Tory cabinet itself.

Graham Newman, responsible for adult and community services, told The Star he regularly uses a combination of cycling and train journeys to get to Ipswich from Felixstowe and is keen for people to know that environmental awareness is important to the authority.

He also outlined his commitment to limiting his expenses claims.

“Some of us are trying on this agenda,” he said. “I don't want you thinking we are all the same. Different people are making different contributions and I know what mine is.

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“What other people do is for their conscience and for them to decide.”

Mr Newman, said his use of the train has increased since he turned 60 in February and qualified for a senior railcard.

Besides the environmental benefit, Mr Newman said his travel arrangements benefit the public purse as the £2.95 train fare he claims is a fraction of the £11.60 mileage claim he would make if he travelled by car.

“My particular position is I live quite near to a station and can cycle there and cycle at the other end,” he said.

“On the train you get an opportunity to read your papers on the way in and I get frustrated with the traffic in Ipswich.

“If I was given a choice I would take the train because I enjoy it more.”

Mr Newman added that on occasions when he is unable to use public transport to travel to a council function he will often claim back only the cost of a train ticket, rather than making a hefty mileage claim at 40 pence per mile.

“I am quite conscious about expenses and always try to limit it,” he said.

Mr Newman's comments come on the back of council leader Jeremy Pembroke defending Mr Alcock's travel habits claiming his choice of car is a “personal matter”.

He added it is “often difficult to get from A to B” on public transport and the timings of trains and buses can make it difficult to travel to subsequent appointments.

Is Mr Alcock the right person to lead Suffolk on the environment? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Mr Newman claimed £2,550 in mileage expenses last year compared to Mr Alcock's £3,899.

Mr Alcock's journeys in his sporty motor included an 80 mile round-trip to the launch of a green initiative in Norwich last November and he also chose to drive a 424 mile round-trip to a function in Leeds last July rather than taking the train.

The Nissan 350Z Roadster comes bottom of a table on CO2 emissions, emitting 280g per kilometre.

Arthur Scrivener: This man should be out of his job immediately! How can this council condone such behaviour?

Michael Bartlett, Ipswich: If Mr Alcock is getting paid 'peanuts' for his time, how come he can afford to buy and run a car of this calibre? My advice is find another hobby, I'm sure we won't miss you.

Steve Clarke: He should resign now.

Tony Gomm: You know what they say: if you pay peanuts you'll get a monkey.

Dale Craven: It is “often difficult to get from A to B” on public transport and the timings of trains and buses can make it difficult to travel to subsequent appointments. Exactly, but they then expect us mere mortals to rely on their public transport offerings.

Here we have a perfect example of double standards, not only Mr Alcock's but Mr Pembroke in admitting the failings of the public transport network which we are told so often is a viable alternative to using the car.

Anonymous: The present council will condone anything.