THE leader of Cheshire East Council insists the authority wants to continue its strong working relationship with Bentley Motors amid doubts over the borough’s mayoralty.

CEC’s mayoral car has been supplied by Crewe-based Bentley since the authority was launched a decade ago.

But the council’s running of such an expensive car has come under fire in recent years, while Labour – which now runs CEC in a coalition with the Independent Group – proposed scrapping the Cheshire East mayoralty in its manifesto for May’s election.

At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Conservative Cllr David Brown urged the cabinet not to cut the council’s close ties with the luxury carmaker.

“I think we all know that Bentley is one of the most prestigious companies we’ve got in our borough,” he said.

“Certainly, over the last eight years we have had a very close working relationship with them, so close in fact that they actually decided to invest in Crewe.

“They are one of the major employers in the area with over 4,000 employees – so I met with some trepidation, I suppose, when somebody told me we were getting rid of the Bentley.”

Bentley – which won the go-ahead for expansion plans in Crewe last April – leases the mayoral car to CEC ‘on very favourable terms’, Cllr Brown said, with the car regularly exchanged for a newer model.

He told cabinet that he had heard a rumour the Bentley is ‘being replaced by an Audi’ – with the lease on CEC’s Bentley now ‘more or less up for renewal’.

But Kath O’Dwyer, CEC’s acting chief executive, told Cllr Brown that no decisions had been taken on the mayoralty or its car.

Instead, the council’s constitution committee is due to discuss the role, its functions and its transport at a future meeting.

Cllr Sam Corcoran, CEC’s Labour leader, moved to reassure Cllr Brown that he wanted to keep up the council’s strong ties with Bentley – and suggested that the borough’s mayoralty might not be axed.

He said: “The Labour group manifesto for CEC did include a commitment to abolish the mayoralty, so I can understand why this speculation is happening.

“However, I don’t wish to go off at half cock, and I don’t think we will be abolishing the mayoralty.

“But obviously that manifesto suggestion raises concerns – we will address those concerns in due course.

“I’m keen that this council will continue to have good links with Bentley.”

CEC came under fire from the TaxPayers’ Alliance last August, after a Freedom of Information request submitted by the lobbyists revealed the council spent a total of £67,980.50 on running a Bentley Flying Spur between April 2015 and March 2018.