Should Sunderland sell the mayor’s £10,000 car number plate?

The official car of the Mayor of Sunderland, a Mercedes E220, bearing the private registration number OGR 1, which is thought to be worth in the region of �10,000. The car is seen here arriving at an official function at Ramside Hall near Durham City.
The official car of the Mayor of Sunderland, a Mercedes E220, bearing the private registration number OGR 1, which is thought to be worth in the region of �10,000. The car is seen here arriving at an official function at Ramside Hall near Durham City.
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SUNDERLAND’S Mayor is under pressure to give up the £10,000 personalised registration plates on her chauffeur-driven Mercedes.

The city council is believed to have held the OGR 1 registration number – one of the first to be registered in the city – since the 30s, and it is traditionally used on all mayoral cars.

But Wearside Tories have valued the registration at £10,000, and called on the authority to sell it to a private buyer to help make ends meet as financial cuts continue to take their toll across the city.

Group leader Councillor Robert Oliver said Registration Transfer gave him an estimate for the plate and offered to sell it should it become available.

“Three letters and the number 1 is one of the most valuable cherished number plates,” he said. “Which would be desirable to someone with those initials.

“Many councils mayoral cars have personalised registration plates, but really, do we need them?

“If they’re worth anything, they should be sold and the money used for something else.

“Councils should be leaving no stone unturned when looking for savings.”

With many community groups and services across the city facing closure due to massive spending cuts, Coun Oliver said the plates, which could be worth even more than £10,000, could be sold and the cash given to those feeling the squeeze.

The council, however, said the registration, which does not have a particular meaning, should be kept in council hands.

Coun Mel Speding, cabinet secretary, said: “This registration plate - OGR 1 - is a unique piece of Sunderland’s history as one of the first number plates to be issued here and it might date back to the 1930s.

“It’s a source of great civic pride as it reflects the office of the first citizen of Sunderland.

“Given this, and I understand the Mayor of Newcastle has a similar style of plate, I think most people would want to see and know that this part of our history and heritage stays with us.”

When asked some Wearsiders believed it was time for the registration to be sold, while others believed in keeping the tradition.

“The mayor needs a car,” said Derek Dent, 72, from Grindon. “But £10,000 isn’t quite in order.”

Anthony Stubbs, 49, a taxi driver from South Hylton, said: “Why should the mayor have private number plates worth a lot of money? They already get a nice new car.

“We would all like to keep things, but everybody’s got to do their bit when money is short.”

But Matthew Parker, 73, of Grangetown, believes it is important to keep the registration.

He said: “Of course we should keep it, it’s tradition. If we get rid of all these things, we’d have nothing left. This is just political point-scoring.”

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