Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Flashy offices before services

A new row is brewing around Ken's decision to move Transport for London staff into the tallest and one of the most expensive real estate in the capital. It has transpired that the plan is to occupy office space in still to be completed Shard of Glass building (pictured) at London Bridge station.

To guarantee that the building will go ahead the developers require guaranteed tenants in advance, and the Mayor is taking up space for TfL which he controls. According to todays Evening Standard, rent in the Shard will be £45 per square foot. TfL requires around 300,00 sq ft making a total cost of £13.5 million of London taxpayers money per year. Rent at City Hall is only £31.10 per sq ft in comparison.

Livingstone is trying to claim that he's got a good deal. He told the Standard that it is "impressively attractive", and that no one will be able to run a "story saying we have paid over the odds". However, he and TfL are refusing to reveal the figures and are citing "commercial sensitivity" as the reason... which is convenient.

I expect we'll be returning to this story when the true cost to the London taxpayer is known. You didn't want a decent transport system did you?

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