Snipe - The Scoop

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Boris spends hundreds on keeping his taxis waiting

Boris Johnson claimed hundreds of pounds to keep taxis waiting outside his home, in between appointments, his latest expense records have revealed.

One journey, just ten miles from his home in Islington to Edmonton, cost the taxpayer almost £240 including waiting time.

Another journey from City Hall, to his home and then onto Chelsea Park cost us £186.

Boris claimed a total of £4689 in taxis up until March of this year.

However, like Assembly Members he also has access to a free Travelcard.

Earlier this year the Mayor's office told me that:

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

Under GLA rules he can only claim for taxis:

"when public transport is unavailable or impractical"

It's hard to see how this applies to his commute to City Hall. Or indeed from City Hall along the river to the Tate.

You can read through Boris's full itemised expenses here

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Taxi for Johnson!

Harold said...

Is he in competition with Brian Coleman or something?

AdamB said...

Oh he's still got a long way to catch up with His Worshipful Mayor Brian.

No sign of Brian at today's BMAC committee on expenses by the way. He must have had some more important business to attend to.

Anonymous said...

I hope HM Revenue & Customs (Inland Revenue as was) are paying attention. Assuming that City Hall is his normal workplace, then any travel from his home to his workplace is not tax deductable and therefore must be declared as a benefit in kind upon which he will be taxed.

Come to that, on what basis is travel from (or to) his home a legitimate cost to be passed on the tax payer? There are scenarios (late working, etc.) that would be valid, but I'd like to see the justification in these particular cases...

Anonymous said...

And more than £5 a day to have newspaper(s?) delivered to his house?

Given his lucrative media work, I fail to see how the full cost of having newspapers delivered to his house should be met by the tax payer.

One can argue - rather flimsily - that there is some justification for some of the cost to be met, being that he needs to know what's in the news that affects London, but that is most certainly not "wholly and exclusively" a cost bourne out of being Mayor.

Anonymous said...

87 taxi expense claims and several "chained" journeys. Does "very occasionally" mean almost twice a week?

Best taxi claim - City Hall to the Tate Modern: a distance of less than a mile and a 20 minute walk according to TfL.

And £270.25 expenses for allowing him to attend the Conservative Conference, and give a political speech?

Phil Taylor said...

If Boris acted like the the 150 odd ministers and civil servants who are entitled to Government Car Service cars his travel costs would be about £90K per annum before anything else happened.

See more here: http://philtaylor.org.uk/?p=1940

I know some people really take the Michael with expenses but perhaps the Mayor is entitled to keep a taxi waiting now and then. We know he cycles a lot - we see the pictures all the time.

Just about every London Borough has a ceremonial mayor who works hard, but not perhaps quite as hard as Boris, and gets the limo treatment at a similar cost to al those Government cars. Get real people.

saifu03 said...

Where exactly does Boris cycle to? Is it just to and from photo shoots? The taxi receipts here would suggest so. I saw Boris at Waterloo station at the ticket barriers and he looked lost. As if it was a foreign land.

This HAS to be seen in the context of his campaigning. This is directly contrary to his campaigning for lower cost travel and cycling. DIRECTLY contrary.
1st class train travel; short (walkable/cyclable) journeys by taxi; long journeys by taxi; accomodation for party politics; £400 on *low cost economy return* to zurich; expensed commutes and even more.

The scary thing is the people that defend his expenses with the same mantra "it was worse under Ken". And that is not even in the absence of evidence, it is with evidence of the opposite!

AdamB said...

A rare visit from Councillor Phil Taylor there.

As usual he's got a blog post he wants to punt (and copy and paste from.)

saifu03 - "This HAS to be seen in the context of his campaigning. This is directly contrary to his campaigning for lower cost travel and cycling. DIRECTLY contrary."

Absolutely. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Simple.

saifu03 said...

Actually, what is it that prevents the claim and approval for his £270.25 expenses for allowing him to attend the Conservative Conference, and give a political speech, being anything other than theft?
Is that not the same issue that is afflicting Ian Clement? Claiming (and having approved) expenses outside the job.

AdamB said...

Well "it looks to me as though Plod needs to come in"

Appealing of Ealing said...

AdamB said...
"A rare visit from Councillor Phil Taylor there.

As usual he's got a blog post he wants to punt (and copy and paste from.)"

Allow me then

AdamB said...

Oh dear have you "all but given up" with me? I'm terribly hurt.

As it happens I did deal with Taylor's "substantive point" albeit by quoting somebody else.

It's totally irrelevant what perks Ministers or the Queen herself gets. Boris has promised taxpayer value and signed up to GLA rules. He hasn't kept his promise or stuck to the rules. It's very simple

Helen said...

I can't see how Boris could've spent £389.65 on a "low cost economy return" to Zurich. I've just done a search for Gatwick-Zurich flights on lastminute.com, leaving this week, and all the direct flights come in at under £200 return.

Helen said...

Re: my last comment, check Boris's register of Gifts & Hospitality: "31-JAN-09 Flights and Transfers Davos to London in private plane Roland Rudd, Finsbury PR"

So, he claimed £389.65 for a "low cost economy return" to Zurich for the Davos World Economic Forum and came back in a private plane.

AdamB said...

Well spotted Helen.

saifu03 said...

Helen, that is probably a reasonable amount - I don't think Boris would fake any amounts or anything like that - he is not that stupid. Flight costs can vary dramatically with time and airline and I imagine there was demand for flights then for the very reason Boris went!

Helen said...

I can believe the amount for a return flight, but not for an economy return.

Helen said...

Nope, I still don't buy it. Zurich, like Frankfurt, is a major business centre. Regular expos and other big events are held in both cities but they are equally well-served by several different airlines from London. Even searching for flights around big events in Zurich they still come in at well under £200 for economy returns, even when booked at short notice.

I've travelled fairly regularly in Europe in the past few years and spent a lot of time searching flight websites - Zurich is not an expensive destination to fly to from London.

I'd like to see the travel documents for that return flight.

Appealing of Ealing said...

"Boris Johnson claimed hundreds of pounds to keep taxis waiting outside his home..."

And today we learn from Dave Hill, that Livingstone's taxi bills were in fact higher during his first years in office. My word! And that was back in the good old bad old days when you could feed a bedraggled family of ten with an Irish sixpence. Can't wait to read your update on how BoJo is right on course to drive down the cost of taxi usage over the term of his office.

Oh, and great to see a bit of capitalism creeping in -- I thoroughly approve. I've already clicked a couple of ads for you. London Blinds of Bexleyheath...some of their woodweave panel glide blinds look quite nice actually...

AdamB said...

If you actually look at the audit panel reports you see that Livingstone spent less in his entire last term on taxis than Boris has done in his first year.

In one year in his first term he spent more (I admit that I didn't check that far back).

But even if he had spent ten times more than Boris, it's irrelevant. Boris promised to be a cycling value-for-money mayor. His own expenses and the expenses of his senior aides and appointments do not match up to that.

"Can't wait to read your update on how BoJo is right on course to drive down the cost of taxi usage over the term of his office."

What by more than quadrupling it?

AdamB said...

By the way, what were you saying about 'cheerleading'?

http://wrinkledweasel.blogspot.com/2009/06/weasel-gets-read-at-hoc.html

(I'm just jealous)

Appealing of Ealing said...

AdamB said...
"By the way, what were you saying about 'cheerleading'?

http://wrinkledweasel.blogspot.com/2009/06/weasel-gets-read-at-hoc.html

(I'm just jealous)"

Sadly The Weasel went to ground a couple of weeks ago. Sigh. He writes really well, and he tries to be honest. We don't really have a word for it in English, but in France they'd say he's très sympa.

Grow some sideburns and watch his video here.

No need for jealousy. As you well know, I'm one of your most ardent cheerleaders. What's a bit of socialism between friends...

AdamB said...

I just checked my ad account and it looks like you earned me 90 whole English pence. Thank you very much. I'll buy an ice lolly.