IN a bid to save money and to be seen as more eco-friendly, Powys County Council (PCC) staff and councillors are being encouraged to car share.

But a big question remains unanswered: who will pay for staff and or councillors to have business insurance on their cars which can be much higher than ordinary insurance?

The issue was raised at the economy, resident, communities and  governance scrutiny committee which met to go through the draft budget proposals that affect their area.

Proposals in this sector are to make cuts or cost reductions of just under £4 million.

The budget reports state that the reduction to councillors travelling expense would save £10,000.

The extra five pence per mile in travelling expense on top of the usual rate for passengers and drivers when staff travel together would be cut, making a saving of £23,000.

Cllr Iain McIntosh (Conservative – Yscir) asked: “What does this involve?

“Are we talking about reducing the amount per mile?

Head of legal and democratic services, Clive Pinney, answered: “It’s simply trying or encouraging members to do two things.”

“Firstly car sharing where appropriate to do so, I’d like to encourage it wherever possible as officers are doing.

“Also using the digital technology we have got, through Skype and (Microsoft) Teams to have conversations over a video link where possible.”

“Don’t always have to travel to Lland'od for a meeting to take place.”

Cllr Gareth Jones (Independent – Llanfair Caereinion) added: “We’re reducing the 5p a mile passenger allowance, isn’t that contradicting what we are trying to do?”

Corporate director of resources and transformation Vanessa Young, told councillors that staff had a responsibility to find the cheapest means of transport possible and to consider car sharing.

“People should be doing that anyway and should not require a financial incentive to do so,” said Ms Young.

Cllr Phil Pritchard (Independent – Welshpool Castle), asked: “Can I be assured that staff are aware they need to identify this to their insurers.

“In the event of an accident they may not be covered.”

Cllr Pritchard explained that if he gave someone a lift from Welshpool to a meeting in Llandrindod Wells he would need business insurances which costs more than ordinary insurance.

“I just don’t want our staff to be led into something that might cost them a lot of money, said Cllr Pritchard.

Head of workforce and organisation development, Paul Bradshaw, said: “Anybody who has to use their car for council business needs to produce documentary evidence, driving licence, proper MOT and appropriate business use insurance.

“They should not be in a position where they don’t have proper insurance.”

Cllr Pritchard added: “I entirely agree, but the point is our staff will be paying extra for that business insurance policy.

“Are we being fair to our staff, who is compensating them?”

Mr Bradshaw answered: “They are compensated for the expense of the business mileage they undertake.”

Cllr Pritchard responded “You’re missing the point, it’s a murky subject that could cost us a lot of money if it goes wrong.”