More than £140,000 is to be spent moving a City Hall team into the Siemens Crystal building in East London despite warnings that the space being rented may be too small and staff could have to work from home.
The staff are part of a new 15-strong team set up by Mayor Sadiq Khan to develop and promote the Royal Docks area, work senior managers claim will be more “focused” if they’re based on site.
A document authorising the move warns that “the space available is relatively small” and suggests the team could eventually have to relocate at further expense, noting: “Whilst the team will be permanent the initial office space need not be.”
Although the document claims the available space is “large enough to accommodate sufficient staff” to “accelerate and maximise the regeneration” of the area, it also warns that space restrictions mean “an element of flexible working will need to be considered to allow e.g. working from home and/or City Hall.”
Space limitations and the cost of hiring meeting rooms in the Crystal means City Hall has had to enter a separate agreement with the nearby Good Hotel to rent a meeting space there, although “key meetings such as the Royal Docks Enterprise Board would still take place at the Crystal.”
It’s also having to discuss with New London Architecture “the feasibility of setting up a larger office/marketing suite to tell the story of the City in the East and the Royal Docks more widely.”
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said the planned move “seems to be a costly mistake for the taxpayer”.
She added: “It seems alternative options have not been properly considered.
“If office space has to found for this team in this part of London I simply can’t believe this small team couldn’t be properly located at much lower cost at TfL’s huge offices at 14 Pier Walk, which is close by on the other side of the Thames.
“And if is necessary for any of this team to quickly get to the Royal Docks they will be only a cable car ride away.
“It is time the Mayor of London gave far better consideration to using the spare capacity that exists with TfL in this part of London.”