MOPAC office swap could cost taxpayers £1.5m

MOPAC is to move some of its staff to CIty Hall at a cost of £1.5m.  Photo: MayorWatch
MOPAC is to move some of its staff to CIty Hall at a cost of £1.5m. Photo: MayorWatch
Londoners could end up paying more than £1.5m to relocate staff working at the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to City Hall.

In 2009 the old Metropolitan Police Authority extended the lease on its Dean Farrar Street offices with an opportunity to break the lease in 2015.

Under the terms of the lease MOPAC, as successor to the MPA, is liable for all rent due if it vacates the property before that date and a new tenant cannot be found.

In September 2011 London Assembly members were told that the incoming MOPAC intended to “see out the lease in Dean Farrar Street” although that position could change once the Mayor appointed a Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.

It has now emerged that current policing Deputy Stephen Greenhalgh has allocated a total of £1,570,375 to relocate staff from Dean Farrar Street to City Hall and the Met’s Empress State Building in Hammersmith and Fulham.

The sum includes more than £173,000 to make good damage to the Dean Farrar offices caused by MOPAC’s staff, and rental liability of £1,248,000.

A decision document signed by Mr Greenhalgh says the Met is looking “at alternative uses” for the Dean Farrar Street site which MOPAC hopes will allow it to “claw back” some of its rental liability.

The costs also include £20,551 for remedial works to make the Empress State Building suitable for MOPAC’s staff and £42,366 to install secure Met workstations at City Hall.

The decision document suggests MOPAC will be able to recoup some of the moving costs by “exploring shared service opportunities” with other branches of the Greater London Authority.

MOPAC has been able to move some of its costs off-book after Mayor Boris Johnson agreed to “absorb the set up costs for MOPAC within existing budgets”.

News of the MOPAC’s £1.5m move comes just days after it announced major cutbacks to the Met’s budget which are to be partly funded by closing front desks and removing public access to police stations.

In a written answer provided in November, the Mayor told Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon that MOPAC was “not yet in a position to provide the actual costs of the move.”

The MOPAC decision paper was signed just weeks later on December 21st but was not published until this month.

The decision to extend the lease on Dean Farrar Street had been criticised by AMs from all parties.

Commenting on MOPAC’s projected moving costs, Green party AM Darren Johnson said: “It was absolutely ridiculous to renew the lease on the old MPA offices at Dean Farrar Street. It’s resulted in a huge amount of public money squandered on a building that’s not needed.

“Assembly Members expressed extreme disquiet about the lease being renewed back in 2009 when we knew there was a large amount of vacant space at City Hall.”