Councillors have claimed hundreds of pounds in expenses for petrol and diesel, a freedom of information request has revealed.

Thousands of pounds in expenses have been racked up altogether by councillors for fuel and petrol, a freedom of information request has found.

The Oxford Mail asked for information on county councillors’ expenses for petrol and diesel between January 2022 and June 2023.

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Despite the county council putting active travel at the forefront of their agenda, new figures have shown that members of the progressive alliance have charged plenty of trips by car back to the taxpayer.

The highest claimants included Andy Graham, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, who claimed £1579.95 for 3511 miles, Freddie van Mierlo, who claimed £1,033.65 for 2297 miles and Liam Walker who claimed £1,268.55 for 2819 miles.

The leader of the county council, Liz Leffman, claimed £513 in petrol expenses for 1140 miles and Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel, claimed £652.50 in diesel expenses for 1450 miles.

Ms Leffman defended the expense by arguing it was often not possible to attend meetings via public transport.

She said: “I have to attend meetings across the county and beyond and on some occasions public transport is simply not available.

“Examples would be journeys to Buckingham for England’s Economic Heartland meetings or to RAF Benson for Military Champion meetings.

“I never charge for travel into and out of Oxford as I am able to use the train from Charlbury.

“Nor do I claim for travel around my division.

“I use public transport whenever it is feasible and practical.”

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Ms Leffman said her claims were not inconsistent with those of the previous leader of the council and said her expenses amounted to less than £30 per month.

Commenting on his petrol expenses, Mr Walker said: “As a county councillor representing a rural part of Oxfordshire, it’s not surprising I clock up quite a few miles each month travelling to meetings.

“Some nights I have two or three meetings and it is not just possible to attend these on a pushbike or by public transport.”

Mr Enright told the Oxford Mail: "My role as cabinet member for travel and development strategy involves site visits and work right across the county.

"I take my resposibility seriously and have attended more than 500 meetings across Oxfordshire in that time."

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Mr Enright said that for most travel he used the "excellent bus service between Witney and Oxford."

Mr Graham, who represents Woodstock, called for buses to be a lot better to Oxfordshire’s villages and said cycling to so many council meetings was just not possible.

He said: “It has been a busy time attending meetings around the parishes which can be as many as 10 a month, as well as partnership meetings in Banbury and the Cotswold national landscape board in Cirencester.

“I wish I could cycle but I wouldn’t be able to attend so many meetings and buses could be a lot better to our villages.”

Freddie van Mierlo, who represents Chalgrove and Watlington, said his expenses were a consequence of attending parish council meetings on an average of two to three times a week.

He said: "I represent a large rural county division, with 19 parishes.

“Residents tell me they find having an active county councillor extremely helpful, and attending meetings is a key part of this.

“Councillors do not receive a salary, but instead receive an allowance which includes reimbursement of travel expenses and, when relevant, childcare costs.

“Councils need to be more representative of their communities, something a recent Oxford Mail article highlighted.

“Being a councillor should not be the preserve of the retired or wealthy, and these allowances allow councillors from all backgrounds to participate in democracy and advocate for their communities."

The full list of petrol and diesel expenses can be found below and is given in terms of total mileage and amount paid.

Diesel expenses

Andy Graham: 3511 miles: £1579.95

Calum Miller: 163 miles: £73.35

Daniel Levy: 910 miles: £409.50

Donna Ford: 176 miles: £79.20

Duncan Enright: 1450 miles: £652.50

Ian Snowdon: 33 miles: £14.85

Yvonne Constance: 848 miles: £381.60

Petrol expenses

David Bartholomew: 1528 miles: £687.60

Edward Fenton: 1238 miles: £557.10

Eddie Reeves: 767 miles: £345.15

Liz Leffman: 1140 miles: £513

Felix Bloomfield: 766 miles: £344.70

Freddie van Mierlo: 2297 miles: £1.033.65

Ian Middleton: 46 miles: £20.70

Kate Gregory: 162 miles: £72.90

Kevin Bulmer: 190 miles: £85.50

Leslie Sibley: 300 miles: £135

Liam Walker: 2819 miles: £1268.55

Nicholas Field-Johnson: 1013 miles: £455.85

Nigel Champken Woods: 87 miles: £39.15

Nigel Simpson: 547 miles: £246.15

Robin Johnston: 210 miles: £94.50

Timothy Bearder: 489 miles: £220.05

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