Hounslow 's outgoing mayor has been branded "disgraceful" after spending nearly £33,000 of taxpayers' money on chauffeured cars.
Labour councillor Nisar Malik has racked up £68,581 of expenses during his year in the robes, a Freedom of Information request by getwestlondon revealed, including £32,990 on the chauffeur service.
That is £27,481 over the mayoral budget of £41,100, a not insignificant amount at a time of severe belt-tightening for Hounslow Council 's financial chiefs.
A source within the Labour Party said: "I think this mayor has behaved disgracefully.
"He's a wealthy man but he's spending taxpayers' money because he refuses to travel anywhere without using the chauffeur service.
'He's a wealthy man but he's spending taxpayers' money'
"He should be prepared to use his own car or to dip into his own pocket to cover the expense."
Cllr Malik is not the first mayor to exceed the annual spending limit. Two of the borough's three previous figureheads also overspent, by £12,015 and £15,336.
The £68,581 figure relates to the financial year 2015/16, running from the beginning of April. As Councillor Malik was only sworn in at the end of last May, this includes the tail-end of his predecessor Corinna Smart's reign.
Hounslow Council froze its share of the council tax for 2016/17 , but the Labour administration said it had to cut its budget by £23.7m to do so following a reduction in funding from central government.
Mayoral expenditure in Hounslow
|Mayor/year||Chauffeur services||Civic functions||Mayor's regalia||Other||Total|
|Nisar Malik 2015/16||£32,990||£7,722||£2,519||£25,351||£68,581|
|Corinna Smart 2014/15||£17,875||£12,675||£2,929||£22,903||£56,436|
|Sachin Gupta 2013/14||£19,453||£16,572||£2,302||£0||£38,326|
|Pritam Grewal 2012/13||£17,087||£29,204||£6,589||£235||£53,115|
Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran said use of the chauffeur service had grown in recent years as mayors attended more events to "enhance community engagement", which he said was an important function of the role.
"Like every part of the council, this (the chauffeur service) is an area that is under constant review and the mayor's office has to make budget savings due to the unprecedented cuts to government funding," he added.
"With this in mind a handbook has been written and approved by Borough Council in February 2016, which helps mayors to carry out their role to full effect but which takes into consideration budget restraints."
Cllr Malik, who came to London from Pakistan as a teenager, runs a number of halal meat counters at Asda stores across the capital , employing more than 130 people. He is the borough's first Muslim mayor.
Handbook written to help mayors consider budget restraints
A new mayor is due to be elected by councillors next month.
Mayors are ceremonial figureheads and the role is a non-political one. As well as chairing council meetings, they attend events across the borough and raise money for good causes of their choice each year.
Cllr Malik's chosen charities are Contact The Elderly, which organises tea parties for lonely and isolated older people; and Hounslow Toy Library, which loans toys and organises play sessions for children with disabilities.
A mayor's ball which he hosted last summer helped raise nearly £4,000 to be shared between the two charities.
Hounslow Toy Library, which began life operating out of a school cupboard, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
getwestlondon has contacted Cllr Malik to offer him the chance to respond.