Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Boris Johnson admits real cost of 'transition team'

Boris Johnson today admitted that the total cost of the 'transition team' of consultants, Tory HQ fixers and PR spinners is likely to be well in excess of half a million pounds.

The admission contained within his written answers to Assembly Members comes one week after he suggested that the cost would be less than half of that amount.

Speaking at Mayor's Question Time, Boris told the assembly that the transition team would only cost £213,000. 

However, it is now clear that this only refers to the cost of the fifteen people employed within the Mayor's office. 

Because what Boris admitted today is that there are another seven hitherto unacknowledged 'transition consultants' working elsewhere within the GLA.

The total cost of all 22 consultants is now thought to be anything up to a maximum of £565,000.

Transparency

When I first highlighted the existence of the transition team, the Mayor's office refused to admit how much they would cost. 

However, what is now clear is that even when they finally did release the cost, they excluded seven of the highest paid consultants from the run-down.

In fact even the existence of these consultants, including the 'Director of Transition' himself, were withheld from the public. They have only now been released three months after they began work at City Hall.

Because when Boris Johnson came into power he promised to make all GLA spending available 'from day one.' 

But with misleading and contradictory figures continuing to be released by his administration, he is now a very long way from meeting that aim.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

What was it he said about having less consultants and more conductors? Don't hear too much about that any more.

Helen said...

Sums don't seem to be one of Boris's strong points. The savings from abolishing The Londoner didn't add up at the Budget meeting today, either.

The Troll said...

And they never have, as pointed out by the Greens in this press release:

"Boris Johnson appears to have spent twice over some of the savings made from scrapping Ken Livingstone's free newspaper 'The Londoner'. Johnson valued the savings at over £10m for his mayoral term. But figures compiled by Jenny Jones, Green Party London Assembly Member, show that the Mayor has already committed over £16m worth of spending against his 'savings'.

"Finance may not be Boris' strong point, but surely even he must realise that once spent, money stays spent. It cannot be conjured back into existence by sleight of hand. If this is the Mayor's idea of efficiency and value for money, I hate to think of his idea of poor financial management.

"The Mayor must come clean. His figures show that over four years, he will spend £10.92m worth of savings with £6m on Safer transport teams, £6m on park improvements, £4m on street trees, and £.08m on a Mayoral Prize for low carbon technology - a total of £16.08m."

Helen said...

From the MQT written answers:
"Richard Barnbrook
In light of the Mayors support for the ban on British National Party members joining the police force, can the Mayor explain the reasons for his opinion?
Answer from the Mayor:
I do not believe that subscribers of such abhorrent views can hold positions in an organization that must reflect London’s population, and must treat all communities equally- particularly when exercising powers of arrest and detention"

So it's OK for someone with abhorrent views to serve on the GLA because Boris is doing his best to ensure that City Hall *doesn't* reflect London's population, hence his removal of so many high-ranking female staff and their replacement with white males, hmm?

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed how Boris can't look Barnbrook in the eye as well? Something to do with that endorsement perhaps.

Helen said...

Boris has given the same reply to both Jenny Jones and Nicky Gavron, in response to their questions about the future of CapitalWoman: "As women make up 52 per cent of London’s population, ongoing engagement with women and listening to their views will be vital in informing my future policies" - that'll be NO, then.

The Troll said...

To be fair we shouldn't really blame Boris for not wanting to look at Barnbrook. It's surely something we would all like to avoid if possible.

The Troll said...

Helen - there's also an answer missing on half price bus fares. I'm chasing it up with City Hall now.

Bobbin said...

£565,000! I guess that wipes out all those efficiencies from the Londoner, no matter how he calculates it.

Anonymous said...

A snip when you think about the millions of pounds the team are saving in efficiencies.

Anyway, I sleep easier knowing that Venezuelan slum children won't being starving to death for my cheap bus fairs.

The Troll said...

*sighs*

Care to explain how employing 22 extra people from Tory HQ, PR and consultancy agencies is an efficiency?

Also, at risk of indulging an anonymous, off topic trolling remark - would you care to explain how pulling out of a deal with Venezuela (which was so awful for them that they have since set up similar deals with other cities including Boston) will help the Venezuelans feed their kids?

Unless Boris is planning on sending food parcels.

Barry Rochford said...

What a load of rubbish 'anonymous' thinku=ing that Boris is making any saving on the Venezuelan oil deal - rather than costing London £13 million more for existing users.
For the record - the US oil companies till 2006 enforced a contract on Venezuela to buy oil at $1 a barrel. The oil going to London is tiny compared to that. When did Bojo ever complain about the oil producing countries getting a poor deal before?

sarah hart said...

Helen - good point about the disappearnce from women at the top, and it seems black people, too. it seems Boris knows the right answer when dealing with Feurer Barnbrook, but hasn't a clue when it comes to employment.
It's good that Nicky Gavron and Jenny Jones are raising the questions.
P{erhaps it's best explained by the answer Tim Parker gave when questioned recently about the lack of women in key positions: 'as you get to the top, you need more skills and experience'. Well, that rules out the majority, then doesn't it.

Tom said...

"as you get to the top, you need more skills and experience"

...or a Conservative Party membership card does just fine. Kulveer Ranger hasn't got any relevant transport experience apart from rewriting part of the Oyster PFI contract about six years ago when he would have been in his early-mid 20s, so presumably wouldn't have had that much control. He gets to be Director of Transport Policy off that - compare the record of the previous equivalent, Dave Wetzel.

The Troll said...

This is the point really. There is a definite smell of jobs for the boys about almost all of Boris's appointments. The reason the opposition assembly members have asked so many questions about what interview/selection process was taken is that so many of the appointments have come from a very narrow pool of the Tory in-crowd.

This is especially the case with the transition team most of whom were involved in the election campaign.

Why for example was James Horrax employed at City Hall, when prior to his appointment he was the web campaign manager for Back Boris. Was Boris planning on continuing his campaign?

prj45 said...

"that so many of the appointments have come from a very narrow pool of the Tory in-crowd"

Have to say that I don't think anybody that voted for Boris will be too upset about this, they'd be positivley for it I'd imagine.

The Troll said...

Yes some will be but you have to remember how much of a big play Boris made out of being the unity candidate who would bring people together where Ken divided.

I know it's the same old shit all candidates come up with, but it's still surprising to see the promise fall apart so spectacularly quickly.

victor allen said...

There's also a need for historical accuracy. When Ken was first elected in 2000, he had no party. He included everyone in his administration, including Darren Johnson of the green Party as deputy mayor. He also gave a post to Steve Norris, the tory he defeated, only to have to dismiss him as all Norris did was to promote the Tory Party.
True that Ken worked closely with people he's worked with for years as an MP, but it is false to suggest that his trawl was narrow. Also, by no stretch of imagination was he controlled by Downing Street.
Contrast that with Boris having in effect all his appointees coming from or being nominated by Conservative Central Office. However, no one's going to worry about that if it works. The likelihood is that it will not and most importnat it's an administration geared to hurting the poorest and most disadvantaged, which frankly only the Tories are properly qualified to do.

Helen said...

tom, re Director Of Transport Policy, I expect Kulveer's taking advice from Jeremy Clarkson. Contrast with Dave Wetzel, as you mentioned, who has years of hands-on experience of public transport and aviation and has also been Leader of a London Borough Council.

In yesterday's Budget Committee meeting Peter Hendy was saying that they strive to get the best (engineering and project) consultants possible for TfL - I can see Boris tendering out the contracts to the cheapest cowboys.