Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Outrage of London Tory's £660-a-day taxi bill

Check out a previous post about Tory Assembly member, Brian Coleman, and his hypocritical attempts to pay poverty pay to vulnerable GLA workers. While at the same time, claiming daily taxi fares far in excess to the weekly wage of such workers.

Boris Johnson (left), of course has also committed himself to being in favour of scrapping the London Living Wage.

The interesting stuff from this Freedom of Information (FIO) request is that:-

Conservative deputy chair of the London Assembly, Brian Coleman, is under pressure today to explain how he managed to run up a £660 taxi fare in one day – paid for by London taxpayers.

Figures released today show that Mr Coleman claimed over £4,000 for
taxi bills from City Hall expenses in just nine months from the public
purse. This is more than ten times the average claim of other London
Assembly members.

Some taxi journeys Mr Coleman claimed for were to and from
Conservative Party events, which may break strict City Hall rules on
using taxpayers' money for political purposes.

JOHN BIGGS, London Assembly Member, said:

'Londoners will be astounded at the arrogance of someone who is
entitled to free public transport running-up a taxi fare of close to
£700 in one day.

'If this is the Conservative attitude to public office - not just
freeloading but slapping Londoners across the face with their gigantic
taxi bills - what would a Tory-run City Hall look like?'

JOHN GRAY, of trade union Unison said:

'Brian Coleman recently opposed paying Greater London Authority
cleaners any more than the minimum wage. Perhaps he could explain to
Londoners how he can justify spending more on one taxi fare than a
full week's wages for those who clean his office?'

Mr Coleman's taxi claims include £176 on 13 September 2007 explained
as 'car from home to various engagements' and £391 for a journey on 16
October to and from an 'event at the House of Commons'.

His largest one-day taxi claim comes in at £656 on 13 December 2007
and includes 2.5 hours 'waiting time'.

(London Labour Party press Release)


Notes for editors:

1. Figures released by the Greater London Authority's Audit Committee
showed the average taxi expenses bill claimed by members of the London
Assembly members from April 1st 2007 to December 30th 2007 was £317.
Mr Coleman claimed taxi expenses totalling £4,157 / £461 per month.
(see attached file for breakdown of his claim).

2. Brian Coleman's £4,157 taxi account bill adds up to more than half
of the entire taxi account bill of all of the 24 London Assembly
members and the Mayor combined.

3. The total taxi expenses for the 25 London Assembly members and the
Mayor that was claimed between April 1st 2007 to December 30th 2007 is

4. On the 14th March 2007 Brian Coleman led a proposal in the London
Assembly to give the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Assembly the use of
a single taxi for a different meetings and engagements, rather than
separate taxis which were condemned at the time as a 'chauffeured taxi
service in all but name.' More at

5. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chair and Deputy Chair of the Assembly,
and all Assembly Members are offered free annual all zone travel cards
to use for travel in London.

6. Taxi expenses for London Assembly members between April 1st 2007 to
December 30th 2007). See:

nuf said comrades?


Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear that Boris will do nothing for the average Londoner. Please join the Stop Boris campaign by putting one of our Stop Boris banner/buttons onto your blog:


Hopefully we can still keep him out

John Gray said...


Anonymous said...

As an accountant who does audit, just before someone claims more in taxi fares, does not mean that they are in the wrong.

I note that Brian Coleman was deputy Chairman of the Greater London Authority. Therefore would he not get invited to more meetings and functions ?

From photographs (Google comes in handy), I see that he has a badge of office. Well do we expect Borough Council Mayors to go around on the tube - no we provide cars.

I also would not that he lives in outer London, so therefore his fares would be higher than for someone who lived in say Vauxhall.

These are the sort of audit I would do, before I accused anyone of anything.

How much does Ken claim. Maybe we should look the at Deputy Mayor, as Mr Coleman was the Deputy Chairman.

And finally, you dont say how much the chairman claimed in expenses.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon
You are quite right, that just because someone claims a taxi expense does not automactically make it wrong. However, I understand that all the members of the GLA have free travel on all TFL services. I also understand that the bill for nearly all GLA members apart form Coleman and the Tories is minimal. What should get in your gut is that he not only claims for taxi to meeting,s but instead of waiting 5 minutes to order one after the end of a function, he has them waiting for hours (at cost) until he his finished?

There is to me anyway a moral point to this as well, Coleman has persistently opposed the GLA paying a living wage to its staff and contractors. These Londoners are paid such small amounts of money in any case and are London rate payers themselves. How can Coleman oppose them being paid a reasonable wage when he spends far, far more on taxi on a daily basis, far more than they earn in a week when he could get the bus or tube for free? This is not right.

Englisc Fyrd said...

I'm afraid this highlights their is really no difference between Labour and the Tories when it comes to feathering their own nests. Anyone who has commuted into London from the outskirts and the South East, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Essex etc. will tell you how much of an "experience" this can be. Whilst the Tories and Labour argue over who spends what on taxis, the rest of us have to make do with an appauling public transport system, and get slapped with stealth taxes if we try to drive instead.
I don't want Boris or Ken to be Mayor, but I would especially like to see that creep Livingston finally kicked out and at the next election Labour destroyed in the same manner that the Tories where in 1997.

John Gray said...

Hi Englisc
I would suggest that you try and put aside your prejudices about Ken and instead think about what he has actually achieved as Mayor? Things are not and perhaps never will (and I am sure never have!) be perfect in our beloved Capital.

However, as someone who actually lives and works in London, I can honestly say that in my view London is safer, cleaner and more mobile now, than I have ever known it to be in the last 20 years.

It is still an absolutely infuriating place at times to live and work in.... but, like many immigrants to London, I would not want to live permanently anywhere else and I think things are genuinely getting better. Slowly but surely.