Thursday, 25 June 2009

The taxi expense rules Boris Johnson signed up to

There's been some predictable whataboutery following the release of Boris Johnson's extortionate taxi bills.

So just to clear all that up, here are the rules that the Mayor personally signed up to when he took the job.


5.1 Cards are available to the Mayor, Assembly Members, Directors and some other senior officers.

Taxis should only be used when public transport is unavailable or impractical

5.2 It is expected that the majority of journeys will be undertaken by public transport, and the majority of Assembly Members have now taken up the option to have an Annual Oystercard. However, the ability to use taxis has been provided where the use of public transport is impossible or inappropriate e.g. when carrying large or heavy packages.

Taxis are to be used for official GLA business only

5.3 Taxi cards should only be used for GLA business. If they are used for travel from home to work (ordinary commuting) or private journeys the Authority must be reimbursed for the costs of those journeys. (See Travel, Section 3, for more details). A tolerance of up to 20 minutes’ waiting time is permitted (noting that, for example, it is sometimes difficult to be absolutely precise as to when previous engagements will end) – with the Authority to be reimbursed by the individual concerned for any waiting time costs in excess of 20 minutes. The Chair and Deputy Chair of the London Assembly may, when undertaking consecutive engagements and carrying their badge of office, by exception incur reasonable waiting time costs in excess of 20 minutes.

Taxi cards should only be used by the Cardholder

5.4 You should not give your card to anyone else to use. You must quote the card number, cardholder name and PIN number when booking a taxi.

5.5 If there is consistent contravention by cardholders of the Taxi card guidance, then the card will be removed from the authorised user.

5.6 If you need to use a taxi and are not a card holder, a “central” corporate taxi card is held by the Head of Financial Services and can be used for exceptional journeys where urgency is required. Authorisation for the use of this card must be sought from the Head of Financial Services, telephone 020 7983 4204, prior to its use.

Home to Work Travel

3.12 The GLA will not normally reimburse you for travel to and from home and work. There are, however, some exceptions to this general rule and these are covered below.

Late Night working

3.13 You can claim the cost of using a taxi/personal car to or from home and work where all the following conditions are met:

· you are occasionally required to work late, (after 9pm).
· those occasions are neither frequent nor regular, (frequent means more than sixty times a year and regular means a predictable pattern), and

· by the time you can go home public transport has stopped or it would not be reasonable to use public transport.

So is that clear enough?

Take a look through Boris's expenses yourself. Do you think he should have his own taxi card "cut into four pieces" now?

And rules aside, Boris promised Londoners that he would ensure tax-payer value at all times.

As commenter saifu03 put it:

"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."

Perhaps the simple truth is that like his hero Maggie Thatcher, and his old pal Andrew Gilligan, traveling on "mainstream" public transport is something strictly for the plebs.


Anonymous said...

Good to see the use of the phrase 'whataboutery' is slipping it's way into mainstream British political dialogue. Anyone unsure of its exact meaing should watch any debate held in the last 40 years between two Northern Irish politicians from opposing sides of the fence.

AdamB said...

I didn't realise that it came from there.

Slugger O'Toole has the background

Anonymous said...

There's been plenty of 'whataboutery' over in the Evening Standard comments. But... but.... Lee Jasper!!

angelneptunestar said...

It's not practical for Boris to travel on the tube, he would be mobbed. (just my opinion). Time is of the essence, sometimes he must be so busy, a cab is the only answer and that has to be cheaper than the Mayoral car he could use.

I can't stand the petty Civil Servicey tone of these comments. Riding his bike so much must save money, he is the Mayor for crying out loud and should have a proper account to take taxis when and where appropriate.

"Crows pecking at the eagles" Coriolanus.

AdamB said...

Angela, where have you been? I've been worried.

angelneptunestar said...

I truly can't stand the petty attitude re. expenses. I don't mean lying to the Fees Office and lying about expenses, like Clements, they deserve all they get.

But I actually feel so sorry for Gordon. They bug him about his cleaning bills and he is bearing the worse stress that anyone possibly could and taking major decisions on a daily basis. The public should cut Gordon, Cameron and Boris some slack and stop these pitiful criticisms.

None of these three men earn much compared to what they could earn in industry, particularly Boris. Are we such a cheese paring nation that we expect our leaders to take vital decisions involving thousands, even millions, on a daily basis, probably sacrificing their home lives and ageing prematurely and we quibble about their cleaning, taxis and wisteria?

Before anyone jumps on me about David Cameron's private income that is absolutely nothing to do with anything. Why should he work for free, he does a hugely important job and should get expenses and a salary like everybody else.

I am not talking about the fraudsters. That is entirely different. But I think the Mayor should have a proper taxi allowance, Gordon should be able to charge for his cleaning and David Cameron, OK the wisteria was mistake, he has said sorry, we should forget about it.

Also, how about saying thanks to them all sometime, for the sacrifices they are making? I loathe Gordon's policies, but my heart bleeds to see him looking so stressed and ill, what must his wife feel? He is doing what he feels is right, however ill advised and misguided, he is doing the best he can, as they all are, and they are only human.

I should hate to do the job they have to do, an absolutely thankless task, they kill themselves working and get their head kicked in on a daily basis, after being driven mad with ridiculous rubbish.

It is so so pitiful.

RTM said...

Do you work for the Labour Party, Angela?

Or are you Nadine Dorries?

angelneptunestar said...

RTM, I blog for Boris Johnson, but am not on the pay roll.

I am Tory to the core, and no, I am not Nadine Dorries.

Just because I can have some compassion for Gordon Brown, does not make me his paid hack, you know!

Can't people use their heads over this expenses thing? Nobody is saying it is not absolutely awful that MPs had phantom mortgages and flipped back and forth, it is.

But many of the items people are screaming about were not even paid out, like the duck house. Sir Peter Viggers never received any money. OK, he shouldn't have claimed, but isn't there a distinction, as far as we are concerned?

To hassle the PM, the Opposition Leader and the Mayor about such trivial items, when we know they are all totally honest..... and we do know that - is disgusting.

I am not the only person who thinks this, in fact a lot of people do.

Anyone who has the guts to step up and deal with the huge problems facing this country deserves better than they are getting at the moment. They deserve proper remuneration and proper expenses and if they need to take a taxi, they should be allowed to take one. (OK maybe not leave the meter running,but the pressure was probably really on and I'm sure he won't do it again.)

I am not speaking for anyone but myself and I feel it is absolutely lousy to treat people like we are treating our leaders at the moment.

Harold said...

(isn't Angela a nice human being? by the way)

On Boris and his policy:
You should know as you covered this with Clement recently: you wouldn't expect him to read anything he signs, would you?

angelneptunestar said...

Harold I would expect Boris to read everything he signs, but from what I have read in the press, the problem was that Ian Clements was taking his mistress out to dinner, but putting the names of business contacts as his reason for the meeting.

How is the Mayor supposed to know? Even his worst critic would surely not expect him to check out the names on every piece of paper that he signs? Anyway, from what I have heard of Boris Johnson, he tends to treat the people he employs like adults and lets them get on with their jobs. That is what so many people who voted for Boris like about him.

Iam Clement seems to have blatantly lied to Boris and to lied on his expenses sheets. It is appalling, it is out of order, and he has let the Mayor down very very badly.

Louise Stanley said...

The problem is, Angela, anyone who is on Boris' staff is accountable to him, and if he doesn't keep an eye on his staff, then he is ultimately responsible for what they do, at least in the media's eyes.

And Cameron has a huge private income - not that it makes him able to work for free, but at least perhaps pay his own bills for removing wisteria from his own house. Plus his issues with his mortgage don't exactly leave him smelling of roses.

By all means, defend the person you work for (I have a soft spot for Michael Howard myself, though I currently lean more towards Labour of the two parties) but don't let it blind you to the extent of public feeling over this issue.

angelneptunestar said...

Hey, Louise, how nice to meet you here!

I would not say I "work" for Boris. Just because I am a huge supporter, and endlessly mouth off to fight his cause, doesn't mean I work for him, or in any way speak for him, my opinions are my own.

Although Boris is accountable for his staff, how is he supposed to know if they blatantly falsify their expenses sheets, as Ian Clements did? You may have some psychic ability, and I do not jest, but I am sure the Mayor has not.

Secondly I do not think it fair or even any of our business, whether David Cameron has private income or not. Mr. Cameron carries out a hugely consuming, stressful, responsible job, affecting the lives of millions of people. He therefore is entitled to the salary for that job, and the expenses that go with them. In my view, he is also entitled to claim for a mortgage if he wants to. How much money of his own Mr. Cameron has is none of our business.

Where did you get the idea that peoples' salaries should be based on how much they have in the bank? This is a novel idea, that is new to me, and the sheer illogicality of it takes my breath away.

Rightly or wrongly, whether we like it or not, lavish expenses were being doled out when DC claimed for his wisteria. He did not avail himself of any expenses, apart from the pruning of the wisteria, in all the time he was Opposition leader. However, he is honorable enough to realise, that although claiming for the wisteria was within the framework of the regulations at that time, it was not within the spirit of the regulations, which is why he paid the money back. He has sincerely apologised and that is good enough for me.

Louise, I happen to believe that because of the importance of the job done by the PM, DC and the Mayor, they are entitled to a decent salary and decent expenses, because of the stress they endure, the damage to their health and the private life they sacrifice. Many may not agree with me, but any criticism of the expenses of Gordon (whose policies I abhor), DC and BJ, I think is unfair. I do not think that this should apply to all MPs, but certainly to our leaders, because of the exceptional responsibility they bear.

Maybe when President Obama pays another visit, people would like Gordon and Cameron to travel by bus to greet him, to save the public purse. Maybe Boris could buy Pret a Manger sarnies for foreign dignitaries to feast on, and maybe they could all doss down in a B. & B, having watched the DVD of "Dodgeball" as a treat.

Things need to be handled in the proper way.

angelneptunestar said...

"don't let it blind you to the extent of public feeling over this issue."

The very fact that you end your post with the above phrase, shows me you do not understand the point that I am making. Like so many of the press and like so many of the public you are lumping everything together.

The MPs who have committed fraud, lied to the Fees Office and lied on their expenses are a disgrace and deserve everything they get.

But by speaking up for our leaders, who, in my opinion have done nothing wrong, you think I am defending the fraudsters.

My anger against the fraudsters is just as strong as the general public's and I hope they all go to jail.

My point is, and I have made it repeatedly, there are no distinctions being made between these people,(1) the fraudsters, then (2) the ones who have complied with regulations but been greedy and then (3)our leaders, who have done nothing wrong at all. there are three distinct groups and it is totally unfair to lump them all together.

When I say things should be done properly, I am referring to group 3only. My argument is nothing to do with the admiration I have for BJ, because I include Gordon Brown in the group, my defence is unpartisan.

It is very wearing having to explain all this, and many ordinary people see what I mean. A Morrocan cab driver giving me a lift home from Sainsburys said he thought it was disgusting the PM of this country was hassled about his cleaning bill. He said "He does such a hugely important job, that should not be an issue. Ditto the Mayor and his taxis. If Boris decides he needs to keep a taxi waiting, I would trust his judgment it was necessary.

What about the sacrifices made by Gordon, Dave and Boris? Who is thinking about that?

angelneptunestar said...

ps. Also in group 3 are the MPs who have remained within the spirit of what is fair and acceptable as far as expenses are concerned, and there are quite a few of those. More than the other two groups certainly.

Why should our leaders work on the cheap? No other country believes that.

Tom said...

Wasn't there a blog around here somewhere?

saifu03 said...

Your thrust is interesting - people should be able to expense things. I completely agree. But if they are going to do that they should NOT campaign the opposite. This, I believe, is called hypocrisy.

Also, the point, which you have ignored, is that Boris SHOULD have known about Ian Clement possibly doing things like that because he has form. He has done it before. Not only before he became part of the mayor's team but THREE times after coming onto the team. If Boris says that he should not be aware, we can take him to be incompetent. He is not incompetent, so what is he?

Tom said...

"He is not incompetent, so what is he?"

'Differently competent'? 'Competent in a negative direction'?

angelneptunestar said...

Your questions are getting into areas I don't know about.

All I can say is, the Mayor is happy to ride around on his bike and has refused a car, so that must save money.

However, he has discovered through doing the job, that sometimes he needs to be somewhere extremely quickly and it is not practical to use his bike.

Instead of leaping on Boris and thwacking his knuckles as though he were a naughty two year old, which I am sure some of the London Assembly are panting to do, why not address the problem? Find a way for him to get somewhere extremely quickly, give him a bigger taxi allowance, work out what the car would cost, offset against the cost of taxis, think of somnething sensible, but of course that would be the mature solution and it is all about making political capital.

To read John Biggs,you would think he would have Boris bungee jumping from the top of City Hall and catapulting to his destination, rather than break some piddling red tape solution that he gets the hots over enforcing.

I bet he is slavering over his cornflakes at the prospect of holding the Mayor to account. Doesn't he realise how stupidly petty and pathetic he appears? Address the problem! But that would be just too easy, wouldn't it?

AdamB said...

Blimey, I go away for a few hours...

Can commenters stick to making comments (rather than essays) please. Ta

saifu03 said...

"Your questions are getting into areas I don't know about."
The questions are related to the post, you have commented on the post so I would expect you to have some knowledge of the areas. Sorry if that was presumptuous.

I'll clarify:
You said that "sometimes he needs to be somewhere extremely quickly and it is not practical to use his bike."
Fair enough, as those that live and work in London [should] know, that is often not by car/taxi. Sometimes it is but I would wager it is quicker to cycle to the Tate Modern - I'm sure you have been there.

You say "Anyway, from what I have heard of Boris Johnson, he tends to treat the people he employs like adults and lets them get on with their jobs."
Very simple people management is to know that different people need different management - unless you can hand pick your staff. Ian Clement has a history of dodgy claims and was told not to use his credit card. His CREDIT CARD was then signed off. That is dereliction of duty. I would not expect him to read all the detail but signing a credit card statement off is not detail, that is gist.

BJ got into power as a result of his journalist friends making issues out of [supposed] indiscretions with public money. Live by the sword....

angelneptunestar said...

I was not aware that Clements had a history of dodgy claims. If you have to know every single fact about a situation to post here, I had better not visit this site, because although I read five newspapers a day, I do not claim to know everything.

It is not in my opinion practical for Boris to travel by tube. Imagine George Clooney or Tom Cruise did that, what would happen?

Boris became Mayor because he was the best candidate. You sound like one of the people who wants Ken back.

Journalists were naturally concerned during the election because vast sums went missing during Ken's reign, but people who behaved badly were not fired. Clements and anyone else who has broken rules, resigned or left ASAP, which is the right thing.

saifu03 said...


He offered his resignation last week and was told "No".

Then, on a busier news day(Monday) it was bye bye Clement. BJ has media training alright.

It is telling that you place Boris with Tom Cruise and George Clooney rather than politicians. Presumably, you think what would happen if BJ was seen in public, on his bike.
I saw BJ at Waterloo stn the other day looking little boy lost at the ticket barrier. BJ DOES use the tube as he must know it is thebest way of travelling around the city that he is Mayotr of. Surprisingly he was not mobbed by adoring fans - people left him to get on with his business as they used to do with the ex-Mayor as he commuted and they do with the thousands of well-known people that use the tube every day.

angelneptunestar said...

I thought BJ refused resignation until he found out that expenses sheet had fabricated names.

Re. my remarks about Tom Cruise and George Clooney, I was winding you up, hoping to get you mad. Score!

saifu03 said...

"hoping to get you mad"

Wow, what a great aim.

So you thought he waited for that reason did you? That is not quite ASAP is it?

In "Ken's reign" I think Ken stood by Lee Jasper as he trusted him and waited for the police enquiry. The enquiry showed nothing untoward. As one of many who read "5 newspapers a day", you would of course be aware of this.

"But what about Lee Jasper?"

angelneptunestar said...

No, I read that the Mayor was told that although Clements had used the card, he had settled the bill at the end of every month from his own money, thus receiving no financial gain. He later found out that names had been falsified on the expenses.

From the things in the press I have read about Lee Jasper, like most people, I thought Ken should have suspended him straight away. I am sure you won't agree with me, but the missing money was hardly trivial and there was inappropriate banter on e mails with a female, however I am sure you will vehemently protest so will say no more.

There were lots of things about Ken that worried Londoners, (employing his partner at City Hall, employing other female friends) but we are not getting anywhere are we?

Boris is a fantastic, hugely popular, inspirational Mayor.

saifu03 said...

So, you would have someone suspended on the sayso of the newspaper although (as was later found out) he had done nothing wrong? Jasper DID resign and was then cleared of wrongdoing having already had his name dragged through the mud. Clement has resigned, along with the others but I think the chances of them being cleared of accusations are pretty slim, right? What with actual evidence of their wrongdoing.

Do you have a problem with female workers? I know all females were purged when Boris got in but is there something worse about female friends being appointed? I know you don't have a prob with Eton chums getting pally and hooking up (nor do I if they are good as a team).

angelneptunestar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AdamB said...

No libelous comments please.

Anonymous said...

What strikes me about Boris' taxi claim is that he is so extraoridnarily wealthy and yet STILL seeks to claim every penny he can. He earns hundreds of thousands from the Telegraph plus some pocket money from County Hall, £200 must be nothing to him.

It goes beyond Boris. David Cameron bought outright a £2.4m house, which Im guessing is a shack. Then he built an extension and claimed for the mortgage costs to the tune of £24k per year from the tax payer. Why is no one saying: 'your loaded, pay for your own extension'.

AdamB said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head there. It's a question of judgement as much as anything else.

Even if you leave Boris's huge personal wealth aside, the Mayor's salary is by any standard more than sufficient to pay for for his own taxis (and newspapers)

If he wants to waste money, he should waste his own.

Helen said...

I've now finished Gimson's biography of Boris, which was a blessed relief. Boris immediately regretted agreeing to the biog being written and kept trying to buy out Gimson, eventually offering him £100 000!

I'm going back to reading about Ken and Lambeth Council, much more interesting.

angelneptunestar said...

Boris himself talks about transparency and those taxi fares.

AdamB said...

Thanks for the link Angela. My response.