"RIDICULOUS" taxi bills amassed by Brian Coleman as part of his London Assembly duties have prompted calls for a complete overhaul of the authority's expenses system.
Assembly Member Navin Shah, deputy chairman of the Audit Panel, yesterday called for the system to be "tightened" to prevent Mr Coleman racking up thousands of pounds of cab fares on the public purse.
Calls for change were first made a year ago, but Mr Shah voiced disappointment that few inroads had been made.
Speaking to the Times Series yesterday, he said: "I am extremely concerned that a year on nothing much has been done to stop abuses by individual members such as Brian Coleman.
"I have once again called for the London Assembly to tighten the criteria of expenses, so people like Mr Coleman can no longer charge ridiculous amounts of money for taxi cab fares."
Mr Shah confirmed the changes were necessary solely because of Mr Coleman's abuse of the system.
The assembly member for Barnet and Camden was the only member to refuse to publish his expenses voluntarily a fortnight ago, but was forced to do so by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
His published accounts show he claimed £1,946 for taxi fares, plus a £1,784 travel card last year – making his the third-highest bill after Mr Johnson and deputy mayor Richard Barnes.
In 2007 to 2008, Mr Coleman spent more than £8,000 in taxi fares – more than the other 24 members put together. The year before, he notched up over £10,000 in fares.
As chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), Mr Coleman also claimed nearly £400 from brigade funds for a single taxi journey to attend the Lord Mayor's banquet in November 2008.
Details of the claim were uncovered following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Fire Brigades Union.
Mr Shah said: "Mr Coleman has spurred this. It isn't an adequate system and it allows him to constantly reoffend."
Mr Shah also confirmed that the LFEPA would publish every expense receipt online from now on, rather than simply grouping total amounts under expense categories.
The decision was agreed unanimously by LFEPA members, including Mr Coleman.
"We are keen for total transparency for members' expenses, hospitality and gifts," Mr Shah said.
"At the moment you can only get this information via FOI requests, but the public has a right to know what is being spent."
Despite efforts to contact Mr Coleman, he has declined to comment.