THE mayor of Cheshire East could soon be driven around in a part-electric Bentley as the council looks to reduce its carbon footprint.

Cheshire East Council has given notice to the Crewe-based carmaker that it no longer intends to run its Continental Flying Spur model as the mayoral car.

Instead, the local authority wants to find a plug-in hybrid as it moves towards becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

But Bentley will soon be launching a plug-in hybrid model in the UK called the Bentayga – and the council is now considering whether to make the switch, or choose a car from a different manufacturer.

Martin Smith, CEC’s registration and civic services manager, told the constitution committee on Thursday: “We have looked around and looked at other plug-in hybrids on the basis of current market and the way in which the mayor operates for what would probably be the greenest sort of vehicles we could have if we try to set an example.

“We could get a reasonably-sized plug-in hybrid for a little bit less than I suspect we would pay for a Bentley, but obviously you aren’t comparing like-with-like.

“You are comparing what would be a nice car made by another manufacturer with a very high-spec, very nice vehicle, made by a local manufacturer.”

Mr Smith told councillors that the current Flying Spur has a four-litre petrol engine, emits 254g of carbon dioxide per km, and does around 24 miles per gallon (mpg) of fuel.

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The Bentayga would have much lower carbon emissions and do 50 to 60 mpg – meaning CEC would save money on the £3,500-a-year it currently spends on fuel, with the car travelling between 14,000 and 15,000 miles a year.

Cllr Dennis Murphy, independent member for Disley, suggested it would be a good move to keep supporting the local employer.

He said: “I’m no fan of Bentleys – I could never afford a Bentley – but I think the borough must support a Bentley.

“We all know it is an international image, name and reputation around the world – for us to go and buy a Ford Escort or whatever for the mayor is just absurd.

“I think it’s very important that we back and support a major employer – a company that brings prestige to Cheshire.”

The most recent 12-month lease for the mayoral car has now expired, but councillors were told that Bentley is being ‘extremely flexible’ in not demanding it back straight away.

Mr Smith told the committee that CEC pays £18,000 for the lease including tax and servicing – while Bentley requests the car back if a buyer is found for it and provides a new one to the council.

CEC has provisionally begun to price up alternative low-emission cars, with Bentley unable to provide a quote for the Bentayga until it goes on the market in Britain.

The issue will be discussed in a future meeting of CEC’s corporate overview and scrutiny committee.

Cllr Rachel Bailey, Conservative member for Audlem, told members she was ‘uncomfortable’ about a comparison between cars taking place in public, and thanked Bentley for ‘the support they have provided to this council and its community’.

But Cllr Murphy insisted ‘it will give us more damage than ever if you end up buying a Bentley in secret’.

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“This would be exchanging the current Bentley for a Bentley that was greener and actually fitted in to what our policy on CEC is,” added Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour member for Macclesfield South.

“I think it’s been very clear that it is a Bentley that is desired – a ‘green’ Bentley.”

If approved by CEC, the new Bentley could be delivered in January 2020.