Boris Johnson has been criticised for appointing a new transport commissioner just months before he’s set to quit City Hall.
The vacancy arose after Sir Peter Hendy, one of the UK’s highest paid public servants with a taste for lavish taxpayer funded meals and a habit of travelling by cabs which he claimed back on expenses, quit to become Chair of Network Rail.
With the Mayor stepping down next May some believe he should leave interim commissioner Mike Brown in charge of Transport for London until the election to allow his successor to pick their own replacement for Hendy.
However Mr Johnson’s aides have rejected such calls with one telling this site that failing to appoint a permanent leader at the earliest opportunity would be disruptive and weaken the organisation during the delivery of key projects.
A recruitment process has been underway throughout the summer and a shortlist of possible new recruits interviewed by members of the TfL board.
The full board is expected to make a permanent appointment when it meets next week.
Jenny Jones, a Green party member of the London Assembly, has accused the Mayor of “jumping the gun by making this major appointment”.
She added: “He should have let the next Mayor choose next TfL Commissioner, to ensure that they reflected the priorities of the next four years, not the previous eight years.”
Sir Peter, who was paid almost £500,000 including salary and bonuses, and other TfL executives have repeatedly denied that they are overpaid with Hendy previously insisting he and colleagues could earn more in the private sector.
Earlier this year a number of senior managers received a generous pay rise after commissioning a report comparing their pay to “equivalent” roles in major private companies.
The departure of Hendy prompted calls for the Mayor to delay a pay-hike for the Commissioner until it was possible to gauge the level of interest in the role at the current pay rate.
However Mr Johnson has insisted that the recent benchmarking report would be used to set a new salary for the incoming commissioner.
Baroness Jones has called on the Mayor to use the appointment to demonstrate his “commitment to pay equality”, commenting: “The police commissioner is paid £290,000, so paying the TfL commissioner almost £500,000 doesn’t look fair or necessary.
“Most Londoners think £200,000 is more than enough for a top job. More equal pay is not only fair, it also makes for a healthier and happier society.”