Sadiq Khan has been ‘caught out’ says Shaun Bailey
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In November 2020, Mr Khan announced the London mayoralty and devolved assembly would move from their current site by Tower Bridge to a cheaper site in the Royal Docks in East London. The Labour candidate for the Mayor of London said the move would save £126m over 10 years as the annual rent for the current City Hall premises is set to rise to £9.6m a year.
However, the move will mean a £13.6 million payment instead of an initial £8 million one-off payment would need to be made.
The Greater London Authority warned that it faced “a £500million financial black hole this year and next due to lower revenues because of COVID-19” with the shortfall not being made up by the UK Government.
The move from City Hall to the Royal Docks would save £61million over the next five years and would help to close this black hole, Mr Khan has said.
The bowl-shaped, glass-covered City Hall building, was designed by Norman Foster and opened in 2002, is rented from the Kuwaiti-owned St Martins group.
The lease has a break clause in December 2021, with formal notice needed to be given this year.
The Greater London Authority which includes the London Assembly will be based in a new building called The Crystal and will house a new chamber and few facilities for the Mayor.
Shaun Bailey, Conservative candidate for the Mayor of London, claimed Mr Khan was “trying to hide” the spiralling costs.
He added: “In the space of a few months, Khan has managed to increase the cost by over £5 million, and the move hasn’t even started yet.
“There are serious questions to answer here”.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, said: “We were previously told that you were absolutely confident in your estimates for the move costs and these were set to be about £8 million.
“The wording was that they were ‘robust’. You were very confident about them.”
In response, a spokesman for Mr Khan said: “The bold decision to move City Hall to The Crystal was made with London’s taxpayers in mind and in direct response to the Government’s chronic underfunding of key frontline services.
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“The move from London Bridge to Royal Docks remains on track and on budget and is expected to deliver even more substantial savings than anticipated – £61million in the first five years.”
The new location, which has been approved by the London Borough of Newham Council has received mixed reactions from residents.
Some residents questioned the value-for-money nature of the move, with one person saying it was “like selling a Rolls Royce to buy a Mercedes and then claiming to be frugal”.
Other residents raised concerns on the DLR and of increases in vehicle pollution and parking problems.
There was also concern about public space being lost due to the need to build a security fence around the building.
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