I am sure most residents will have been flabbergasted to read about the purchase of a new Jaguar for the mayor of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.

Council leader Joan Spiers says that the cost of the car was really only £6,400 because of the offset of the purchase price by the sale of a personalised number plate for £18,000.

Mrs Spiers is being disingenuous in claiming this represents only £1,000 a year from the budget.

According to What Car magazine, a Jaguar XJ series saloon will be worth approximately £12,000 after four years.

In addition to these depreciation costs, the road tax charges would be £400 a year. This represents an annual cost, excluding fuel and maintenance, of about £10,000.

A top of the range Prius would cost around £20,000, would be worth £8,000 after four years and would be free of tax due to its low emissions – an over-all annual cost of £3,000.

The purchase price could have easily been covered, with cash to spare, by the sale of the old car and its number plate.

As for prestige, I would think that a Prius would be a much better flagship for a responsible council than a gas-guzzling Jaguar.

The savings that could have been made would fund thousands of cooked dinners for pensioners at the community centres whose budgets have been slashed.

I cannot believe that council tax payers will accept that the prestige of the first citizen’s car is more important than the provision of what is often the only hot meal of the day for many pensioners.

This purchase gives the impression that the Conservative-controlled council are completely out of touch with the concerns of ordinary residents in the borough.

Peter Lambell, Reigate Liberal Democrats, Flanchford Road, Reigate