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Cab for Coleman? That will be £10k
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has criticised Barnet London Assembly member Brian Coleman for running up a 'staggering' £10,000 taxi bill 'with little benefit for Londoners'.
Mr Coleman, currently vice chairman for the London Assembly (LA), amassed the costs between April 2006 and March this year. He said the cars were hired by the LA and were used to attend 'official functions and events' during his tenure as LA chairman.
An audit by the Greater London Authority's Audit Committee showed the average taxi expenses claimed by LA members during this period was £845. Coleman claimed £10,334, accounting for nearly half of the taxi bill of all LA members and the Mayor combined.
Mr Coleman said: "I'm not going to apologise. It's very good value. I'm not ashamed of it at all. I was chairman of the assembly at the time and attended 169 chairman's appointments."
A spokesman for Mr Coleman added that the total amount he spent on travel and expenses was £11,974, compared to £35,501 spent by the Mayor and £22,732 spent by deputy mayor Nicky Gavron.
But a spokeswoman for the Mayor's office said the numbers weren't comparable. She said: "The Mayor has a great number of responsibilities, one of which is promoting London abroad. It's partly due to his work that the city has overtaken New York as the number one financial centre in the world. This is hardly the same as having a taxi waiting outside the house."
The Mayor's office stressed that annual all-zone travel cards were available to LA members to encourage the use of public transport.
Mr Livingstone said: "It is a staggering bill with little benefit for Londoners. Using public transport is crucial to cutting congestion, pollution and tackling climate change. So rather than swanning around London in a chauffeur-driven car, Mr Coleman should try cutting down on the receptions, lunches and dinners, and set an example to Londoners by using buses, the Tube, or even walking."