Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

June 26, 2009 01:00 ET

London Fire Authority Chair Claimed Pound Sterling 396 Cab Fare After Driver Was Kept Waiting Outside Banquet for 5 Hours

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 26, 2009) - The chair of the London fire authority councillor Brian Coleman made an expenses claim for a Pounds Sterling 396 cab bill when he attended a Lord Mayor's banquet on 10 November 2008. The journey was from Finchley, where Mr Coleman lives to the banquet and back to Finchley.

Most of the cost - Pounds Sterling 246 - was charged because he left the cab driver waiting outside the function for nearly 5 hours. The information was supplied to the Fire brigades Union following a Freedom of Information Act question, details are available.

The return fare was Pounds Sterling 104 (including VAT) plus a service charge of Pounds Sterling 28. With VAT on the fare, waiting time and the service charge the total bill came to Pounds Sterling 396 which was paid by London fire authority.

Mr Coleman is supplied with Travelcard free of charge. He publicly criticised Lynne Featherstone MP when she called the fire service out over concerns her boiler was about to blow up.

Mr Coleman described her as "dizzy" and an "airhead" and said she should have called a plumber. He demanded she paid the fire service's costs for the call out.

Both the London Fire Brigade and the Fire Brigades Union said Ms Featherstone was correct to call the fire brigade in those circumstances. She had been following sound fire safety advice.

The timeline was:

10th November - Brian Coleman's taxi fare

25th November - Lynne Featherstone called the fire service out

14th December - articles in numerous national newspapers quoting Brian Coleman's comments about Lynne Featherstone and demanding she pay the fire service's costs.

In November Mr Coleman tried to push through budget savings cuts in the fire authority including job cuts among support staff and the closure of the fire brigade museum.

London fire authority is currently turning down daily allowances normally paid to firefighters for subsistence payments of up to Pounds Sterling 8 a day when they attend training courses. This is in breach of a national agreement.

Mr Coleman faced criticism last year when it was revealed he had run-up expenses on taxi fares of Pounds Sterling 8,000. This was more than the other 24 members of the Greater London Assembly combined.

Asked to comment on the taxi fare by the Fire Brigades Union, Mr Coleman replied - by e-mail - "I never comment on such matters."

Ben Sprung, Fire Brigades Union regional organiser said: "With this taxi bill Mr Coleman has been reckless with public money. This claim was excessive and unacceptable, and in our view it should never have been made let alone authorised.

"I doubt very much if he would have kept a cab waiting for so long if he was paying it himself. It would not be acceptable behaviour for a member of staff to charge to keep a cab waiting for 5 hours.

"Mr Coleman has been very quick to criticise others about wasting public money. In our view if he does not resign he should be removed, precisely what he would demand of others."

Contact Information

  • Media contacts:
    Ben Sprung
    07500 067088
    Paul Embery
    07854 998508