THE audit panel of the London Assembly considered expenses incurred by the mayor, assembly members, mayor's advisers and senior staff for 2008/09 financial year.

The Observer has published briefly my expenses but as an elected member it is my duty and personal pleasure to give a comprehensive account of how I have incurred the expenses from the public purse.

All assembly members and the mayor have access to an annual Oyster Card worth £1,784 for public transport travel in London.

Excluding exceptional circumstances, all my travel was by public transport for the year. Of the three taxi expenses, two were associated with late night travel (well after 11pm) from Bromley and Bexleyheath to return home after attending official meetings/visits when I had no access to public transport.

The third small taxi fare was to travel to City Hall from Westminster to attend the Holocaust Memorial service when I was stuck in an Underground train because of signal failure.

While not the lowest expense claim in the assembly, it compares well with the annual expense of £3,606, of which £1,822 was for taxi fares incurred by Councillor Brian Coleman, the Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden.

In addition, Mr Coleman also spent taxpayers' money on a taxi fare of £415 (including the cost of keeping the taxi waiting for five hours) when he attended the Lord Mayor's annual banquet last November.

For details of the expenses claims of all assembly members and the mayor visit assembly/audit[2014]panel[2014] mtgs/2009/jul16/ item15b.pdf

While the expenses of the London Assembly members are not in the same league as those of MPs, I am very concerned that the criteria for claiming expenses is not stringent enough.

In the very first audit panel I chaired nearly a year ago, I asked the assembly to review the criteria for all expenses in order to curb excessive use/abuse of taxis. A year on, this has not happened.

I support the London mayor's stated aim of greater accountability. With regret we are nowhere near this aspiration.


Member Brent and Harrow

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