Boris Johnson’s image as an environment loving cyclist suffered a serious dent today with the publication of expenses showing he’s spent more than £4000 on taxis since taking office.
The expense claims, which are contained in a written answer to Assembly Members, show Johnson made his first taxpayer funded taxi journey on 3rd May 2008, the day the election results were announced.
Despite making much of his cycling credentials, the Mayor opted to take a taxi for a return journey between City Hall and Elephant and Castle on 15/05/08 at a cost of £99.50. The Mayor could have made a number of cheaper journeys by taking the Tube from London Bridge, or any of several buses which run from the London Bridge area to Elephant and Castle.
Use of the much more expensive taxi journey is at odds with Johnson’s repeated assertions that he intends to run a ‘best value’ Greater London Authority. Under GLA rules, the use of taxis is only acceptable “when public transport is unavailable or impractical”.
The figures also show the Mayor incurred costs to the taxpayer of more than £320 for two claims listed as ‘Newspaper delivered to Mayor’s home’ between 25th May and 2nd August 2008.
A spokesman for the Mayor said: “The Mayor has newspapers delivered to his home so he can read them early in the morning to ensure he is fully briefed before he attends his first meeting or event. For the first two months of his administration, the Mayor was advised to claim the newspapers on expenses until the GLA could set up an account, through its normal procurement systems.”
MayorWatch has been told Johnson’s predecessor “didn’t have the same arrangement.”.
On the issue of cab fares, the spokesman said: “The Mayor’s preferred mode of transport is his bike which accounts for the vast majority of his personal and official journeys.”
“For greater distances he tries to use public transport. On occasions however over the past 14 months taking taxis has been unavoidable. That is very much the exception and the figures show he takes fewer than three taxis a week on average.”
“Most of the taxis in this bill were booked in the first few months of his administration when he attended a huge number of events often going to two and three in a row on a tight schedule.”
“His use of taxis has declined steadily from the start of this year. The latest figures show only 11 taxis were booked between January and March.