Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Boris Johnson claims £1742 for 'occasional' taxis

He claims to cycle or get the tube almost everywhere, but Boris Johnson's latest expense claims show that he is becoming increasingly fond of taxis.

Newly released figures show that the Mayor claimed £1742 in taxi fares between the start of November and the end of January alone.

By comparison, the previous Mayor claimed just £729 on taxis in the whole of his final year in office.

When asked in January whether he was about to buy an official car, Boris's spokesperson replied that:

"He cycles everywhere he possibly can, and if he cannot he happily uses public transport or very occasionally a taxi."

I think that 'very occasionally' needs a little work.

Private Carriage

The news that Boris is claiming large amounts in taxi fares comes after our story about his team spending £1000 on them in just one night.

The story, which made its way into the Daily Mail was countered by claims that using public transport would have been too dangerous.

Since then, details of a new expenses regime have been revealed at City Hall.

The review which was set up after Brian Coleman's £18,000 taxi bills has not brought forward any radical changes.

However, under the new guidelines the Mayor and Assembly members will only be able to claim for taxis:

"where the use of public transport is impossible or inappropriate e.g. when carrying large or heavy packages."

Members will be prohibited from claiming for taxis used during their commute, and business class flights will only be paid for in 'exceptional circumstances'.

The changes still need to be signed off by the Mayor.

At a meeting of today's Business Management and Administration Committee, Brian Coleman described the new regime as "unnecessarily prescriptive." 

-Update- This story is now in the Evening Standard
Mayorwatch now has more

In the latest written questions Murad Qureshi asked the Mayor: 

"Since 1 January 2009 how many journeys have you made by London bus?"

to which he replied:

"I undertake the vast majority of my journeys by bike and tube. I occasionally use the bus or a taxi if that is appropriate to the journey I am taking."

Shall we take that as 'none'?


Anonymous said...

At that BMAC meeting today the ‘statutory’ Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes complained bitterly about the introduction of new rules that forbid business class travel if flying, unless there were exceptional circumstances. He appeared worried he might suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Richard wasn't too happy either with the thought that if the GLA booked hotel accommodation for him it would be of three stars or equivalent. He said he didn’t live in three star accommodation at home, so why should he suffer it if away on GLA business.

They just don't get it do they?

AdamB said...

Yeah I saw that. There was a look of horror in his eyes as he asked "three stars in which country" The thought of a three star hotel in Mumbai didn't bear thinking about perhaps.

It went on forever and Mike Tuffrey looked embarrassed by the whole thing and said something like "I knew we would spend the most time today talking about expenses." Barnes and Coleman didn't seem to have the same sense of self-awareness.

Will said...

Has anyone ever seen Boris on a bus?

AdamB said...

If you find yourself on the back of a bus you're a failure Will - unless you're on the back of a BorisMaster of course - in which case you're dreaming.

Tom said...

"in which case you're dreaming."

Hallucinating, even.

It's no surprise Boris doesn't take the bus very often, is it? Face it.

Anonymous said...

"By comparison, the previous Mayor claimed just £729 on taxis in the whole of his final year in office."

I expect Ken's taxi journeys were usually much shorter...he never did make it out to the outer boroughs that often...something about votes I think.

BTW, hope you've all read Dale's interview with Ken. I thought it was rather good. Interesting is the discussion around the role of ideology, (as opposed to pragmatism), in good governance.

More than any "Dispatches" documentary, I would argue it was ideology that ultimately dispatched him.


Anonymous said...

better to be unnecessarily prescriptive than legendarily vindictive
eh coleman?

Tom said...

"I would argue it was ideology that ultimately dispatched him"

Boris has an ideology? Livingstone never governed as if he did, it's partly why I voted for him in 2004/2008. If he'd governed as a red hot Marxist I wouldn't have, since I don't trust ideologues to do the right thing when the right thing clashes with their ideology, which it will because the world's not perfect.

"I expect Ken's taxi journeys were usually much shorter"

I'd expect he travelled rather fewer miles by taxi, yes. That's what the *bill is lower you mug*. Really. Anyway, I think I'm right in saying Ken lives in the suburbs (Dollis Hill) while Boris lives in the inner city (Highbury/Islington somewhere).

Anonymous said...

"Boris has an ideology? Livi..."

Was this reply some kind of April Fool joke?

What can I say ...perhaps this tiny WAV file says it better.


Anonymous said...

This is typically shoddy work. The figures you link to are for three months, not two months - and you are deliberately selective in your comparisons.

Ken's taxi bills are less. But what about his £5,460 on "foreign travel," his £6,811 "other expenses," his total expenses of £13,115 - all substantially more than Boris's. With only two months of the financial year left, Boris's total expenses so far are little more than half what Ken's were.

AdamB said...

You're quite right. I read it as 8th November to 9th January but it is in fact November 08 to January 09, so three months. I will amend that.

Anonymous said...

And your other distortions?

AdamB said...

I am happy to correct any factual errors, but I have not distorted anything. Boris said he would only use taxis occasionally and he told Assembly members to show restraint. This claim plus the claims from the Hillingdon PQT do not demonstrate that restraint.

Anonymous said...

It really is world-turned-upside-down day in London. Over in Docklands, the US and UK are trying to persuade France and Germany to increase public spending, whilst the Evening Standard publishes a story favorably comparing Ken with Boris (http://tinyurl.com/cee5kx). I'm not sure my head can cope.

AdamB said...

Oh dear oh dear, would that be the Evening Standard running with this 'distorted' and 'selective' story? What is the world coming to eh?

Martin Hoscik said...

Not quite sure how that story on MayorWatch came back online actually, it was removed (well, reset to draft) last week after a bit of a spat over a press release issued and then withdrawn and seems to have come back after some database issues we've had today.