'A chauffeur per exec' sparks Nat Grid row

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The National Grid was at the centre of a fresh storm over executive perks yesterday after it emerged that it employs five chauffeurs - one for each executive board member, writes Michael Harrison.

The disclosure came as the Grid wrote to all shareholders saying that it could not achieve new cost reductions demanded by Professor Stephen Littlechild, the electricity regulator, to pay for cuts in domestic power bills.

Professor Littlechild has told the Grid to reduce costs by 4-6 per cent a year to finance a pounds 4 reduction in the average domestic bill but the company claims the proposals are too harsh.

The chauffeurs are employed to drive the group chief executive David Jones and the Grid's four other executive directors.

The Grid's chairman David Jefferies's chauffeur retired recently and was replaced by a chauffeur who used to work for National Power, the electricity generator, which no longer employs any chauffeurs.

A Grid spokesman defended the number of chauffeurs it employs saying: "The five drivers are split between our offices in London and Coventry and their duties include not only driving directors but also meeting visitors and acting as couriers."

The letter to Grid's shareholders urges them to write to the regulator, Mr Jefferies tells shareholders that the "harsh proposals seem to go against the spirit of incentive regulation" and are "tilted against your interests and will adversely affect our ability to grow dividends".