The head of London’s transport agency has been criticised for attending a men-only Christmas dinner organised by a transport industry society.
Sir Peter Hendy, the £330,000pa head of Transport for London, has admitted to attending the Transport Golfing Society annual dinner in December as a guest of bus maker Alexander Dennis.
The society’s website describes the event as including “a glamorous string quartet playing exciting music in even more exciting tight dresses” and “a troupe of Can Can dancers”.
It also confirms membership is only open “to gentlemen associated with the transport industry” and that the annual December gathering is “for gentlemen only.”
Such male-only membership rules are increasingly seen as inappropriate and societies and clubs around the country are under mounting pressure to admit woman and increase their diversity.
Video footage on YouTube confirms that the only women present at the 2012 event were working as servers or providing the evening’s entertainment.
Ask to comment on the commissioner’s presence, TfL issued the following brief statement: “Sir Peter Hendy attended the event as a guest of the bus company, Alexander Dennis. This was publicly declared in accordance with TfL policy.”
Although the statement failed to confirm whether he attended in previous years, TfL’s website shows Sir Peter listed receiving hospitality from Alexander Dennis on 13th December 2012 and 12th December 2013 – the same dates as the golf society’s dinners.
In addition to his generous salary Sir Peter enjoys regular tax-payer funded meals at some of London’s top members-only clubs and restaurants and regularly clocks up thousands of pounds of taxi and mobile phone bills.
His presence at the TGS dinner has been criticised by Baroness Jenny Jones, a Green party member of the London Assembly, who said: “I’m shocked twice over. First, that our Transport Commissioner would attend something that has such sleazy sexist overtones. Secondly, does he really think that only men are worth listening to on Transport issues? Peter, please never go again.”
Earlier this month three directors from Lothian Buses, which is owned by Edinburgh City Council, were banned from attending the dinner after bosses ruled it was “inappropriate”.
Baroness Jones says Mayor Boris Johnson, who is also the chair of TfL, “should copy Edinburgh and make it a clear policy across the GLA family that employees shouldn’t attend these.”
Labour’s Assembly transport spokesperson, Val Shawcross AM, described the dinners as “revolting sexism in a backwards looking industry”.
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said: “In many respects the transport world, certainly at a senior level, is far too male dominated. This kind of event really confirms that.
“I hope TfL follow the lead of Edinburgh council and decide to stop participating in a society that excludes 51% of the population.
“At the same time TfL must improve their transparency record over the declaration of gifts and hospitality given to senior staff. The full details of this event should have been in the public domain.”
Update: A TfL spokesperson has confirmed that Sir Peter also attended the golf society’s annual meal in December 2012 and 2013 “as the guest of Alexander Dennis.”
On Friday evening Sir Peter issued a statement distancing himself from the golf society and insisted he would turn down future invitations.