Monday, 9 February 2009

Boris Johnson defends his team's £1000 taxi bill

I think it's safe to say that we have touched a nerve:

You can read the whole shebang over at Dave's but I was particularly struck by this section:

Now I'm reliably informed that the Heathrow debate ended at 8.30.

So is Boris really suggesting that no public transport could be found at that time of night? Was there a little snow on the roads perhaps?

Or is it simply the case that the London transport network is now too dangerous for a few Mayoral advisors to use after 8.30 at night?

If so, there's a certain Kebab-eating home secretary that they should have some words with.


Helen said...

There was no snow, it was raining a little afterwards, maybe Boris was worried about his barnet.

chpaul said...

This is ludicrous all the mayor's advisors can claim for a free GLA travel card anyway. Why are they claiming taxi fares?

Nick said...

A number of the GLA staff that were at the event weren’t Mayoral Advisors, but people tasked with organising the meeting, handing out brochures, looking after security etc. These people don't get free travel cards. For some of those people, taxis may (but only may - and not a £1000+ worth) be justified. Boris, Kit Malthouse, Guito Hari and other Tory Assembly Members there should have taken public transport.

One thing that has gone unremarked in all this is the number of police there were in attendance outside the meeting venue. I don’t know if the local borough commander had misunderstood and really thought that Gordon Brown really was going to turn up, (remember Boris had invited him to the meeting and put a chair up on the platform for him) or if Guito Hari had thought there would be thousands of people turn up to see the blond messiah arrive in Uxbridge, but someone should do an FoI on those costs alone. The only place I have seen more policemen recently was at the Freesmasons Christmas party.

Mark Lee said...

As someone who has been known to put the odd taxi through on the expenses, like it or loathe it, there is an argument that taxis can be appropriate transport if they save a fair amount of time compared to the same journey by public transport, particularly in the evening, as aside from anything else, they give the person more time to recuperate at home prior to the next day.

That being said, that argument really only comes in to play though when you're working 16 hour days... And work on other jobs doesn't really count.

I do wonder how many cabs were organised and what their destinations were?

And another point, if the expenditure on taxis is reported as a 'meeting cost', does that mean that it won't appear under individual AM's expenses? Let's make a wild assumption here that Mr. Coleman took a taxi home (heaven forbid) - would that even show up in his expenses, or would it just be absorbed into the meeting's costs?

If it wouldn't be reported as an individual's expense, I wonder if we have a wider issue here of expenses being incurred for meetings and suchlike that really result from an individual members' lack of consideration for the public purse, but without any real visibility of who is doing it.

Mark Lee said...

Nick - you do raise a valid point regarding the GLA staff - but why would they need to use taxis to get home? Arguably even if they don't have a free travelcard, there's no reason why they shouldn't get the tube home and expense the tube fare.

Helen said...

I've commented elsewhere on the police presence - it was outrageous. A local resident told me that a helicopter had been circling the theatre for the previous night, too.

tommy said...

Could have laid on a few coaches to take them back to city hall

AdamB said...

Mark - Only one assembly member was invited as a speaker (Richard Barnes) so I imagine only he could claim expenses as part of the event. Again more questions need to be asked.

Nick- there does seem to be anecdotal evidence that the police presence was in line with a prime ministerial event. Were they misled at great expense? Again, more questions.

prj45 said...

Nivk; "remember Boris had invited him to the meeting".

But not received a reply.

Helen said...

They knew Gordon Brown wasn't coming, this statement, released before the event, says that his place will be left empty:

AdamB said...

I'm making some enquiries Helen.