AFTER the fanfare that accompanied the arrival of the Lord Mayor of Oxford's controversial - and expensive - civic vehicle, The Insider can reveal the eco-friendly Toyota Prius has become even more eco-friendly - it has only been used 100 times in the past seven months.

You might recall the £20,000 car was chosen in 2005 ahead of a BMW made by the owner of the city's Cowley car plant, but it transpires that Jim Campbell, the current Lord Mayor, makes more trips on his bicycle than he does in the mayoral vehicle.

A member of Cyclox, the right-on pressure group for the city's cyclists, suggested it would be more economically prudent to hail a cab each time the mayor wanted to take a ride, rather than keep the car in service.

WHAT bad luck lies in store for Oxford City Council this year, then? For the superstitious among you, the reason for asking is that some bright spark forgot to take the Christmas decorations down at Town Hall after Twelfth Night.

Oh dear. The timing could have been better, seeing as the city's unitary status bid is due in at the end of the month.

NEWS reaches The Insider that the Conservatives - increasingly desperate to get some sort of representation in Oxford, where they do not have a single councillor at present - have been sniffing around at least two well-known city councillors in an attempt to get them to defect.

But Conservative city councillors? Surely some mistake.

Perhaps the party should have done their courting a month earlier. After all, that was the season for miracles.

RED faces - again - in Oxfordshire County Council's pressured press office, where a missive was dispatched this week announcing a decision... that had yet to be taken.

Far from us to imply the authority ever makes decisions in advance of its meetings.

Perhaps it's that the council in general - and the press office in particular - is just highly efficient.

DAVID Rundle, the sartorially elegant and usually mild-mannered deputy leader of Oxford City Council, arrived at Monday's executive board meeting a little slacked-tongued, judging by his comments about the work of colleagues at County Hall.

He caused a sharp intake of breath from those sat around the table - and a red-faced grin from leader John Goddard - when he used the words "silly b**ers" - and in front of the new interim chief executive as well.

Tut, tut, David.

THE Insider was fed some duff information last week - but how we wish it was true.

Rumours circulated that Boris Johnson, the floppy-haired Tory MP for Henley, was set for an appearance on Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother alongside the likes of Jade Goody, Leo Sayer and Dirk Benedict.

Sadly, the rumour proved false. He wasn't even approached. But what a dinner party table that would have been.