The Mayor of London has been accused of exaggerating the savings made by relocating City Hall and told to be “more open and transparent”.
The allegations were made by Caroline Pidgeon (pictured), Chair of the Greater London Assembly (GLA) Oversight Committee, in an open letter to Sadiq Khan published on Monday, July 5.
The Mayor has previously claimed that moving the GLA’s headquarters from The Queen’s Walk to The Crystal Building in Newham would save the tax-payer £61 million over five years.
But Ms Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly says it only saved £37 million because the landlord had offered a new rate at a £24 million discount.
But a spokesperson for the Mayor of London at the GLA doubled down on Khan’s initial calculations saying: “The relocation of City Hall is saving £61m over five years to invest in London’s recovery from the pandemic and protect vital services including policing, the London Fire Brigade and the transport network.”
Expanding on her own findings, Ms Pidgeon wrote: “Decision making at the GLA must be based on robust financial analysis. The GLA, including the Mayor’s Office, must adopt a more open and transparent approach to the communication of savings.
“The true savings have been established as £37 million over a five year period and this figure should be used in all future communications from the Mayor and GLA.”
The Oversight Committee is now also urging Mr Khan to publish details on a settlement agreed with the old landlord over dilapidation costs.
The letter also says the Mayor pursued an over-ambitious move-in date and made staff work “in an incomplete building with insufficient heating”.
According to the letter, the new City Hall was due to open on October 21 2021 but was then delayed on four occasions, with staff finally moving in during March 2022.
As a result, staff suffered “uncertainty and confusion” and were forced to work in offices that weren’t fit for habitation.
The construction was hindered by Covid-19 infections, global supply chain issues and the need to replace an “extensive area of flooring” according to a GLA spokesperson.
The letter also states that early meetings held at the new City Hall paused construction works, incurring additional costs of £85,000.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office at the GLA said: “The new City Hall is already proving to be popular with both staff and Londoners – and a busy and vibrant home for London government.
“The Mayor thanks the Oversight Committee for their work and will respond in due course.”
Caroline Pidgeon has been approached for comment.