- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
City Hall politicians are to be made temporarily homeless in the run-up to Christmas due to the “half-baked” plans to relocate to the East End.
Mayor Sadiq Khan decided last year to end the lease of City Hall and move the Greater London Authority to The Crystal, a small conference centre in the Royal Docks, to save cash.
The original plan was for staff to move to The Crystal next month - and have everything up and running for the GLA Christmas party in December. But the end date for the project was moved to the end of 2021 when Mr Khan gave the final go-ahead last November.
Today GLA staff were told that City Hall would close on Friday November 26 but the Crystal, for which the GLA acquired the freehold several years ago, would not be ready until “mid December”.
This means that the London Assembly, the 25-member cross-party body that scrutinises the Mayor, its staff and other GLA staff working for the Mayor will not have a permanent home until near Christmas.
The final Mayor’s Question Time, the monthly questioning of Mr Khan, is due to be held on December 16. The City Hall chamber can continue to be used until December 2, it is understood, but staff face at least three weeks desk-hopping. Many fear the disruption continuing into the New Year.
Sources today suggested that assembly meetings in early December may have to be held at the London Fire Brigade headquarters, in Union Street, Southwark, or at the Barbican.
GLA Conservative Leader Susan Hall said: “It is hugely disappointing that the London Assembly will be temporarily homeless because of the Mayor’s decision to move City Hall to the Royal Docks.
“Far from saving taxpayers’ money, the Mayor’s plan is proving to be a costly distraction from City Hall’s important work. We’ve already seen the moving costs soar by 70 per cent to £13.6 million and it’s likely the final bill will be even higher.
“We warned the Mayor that his plan to move to the Crystal building was half-baked. It’s becoming clearer by the day that Sadiq Khan’s decision to abandon a custom built home for City Hall is a catastrophic mistake for London’s government.
“We will not allow Sadiq Khan’s moving fiasco to frustrate the Assembly’s efforts to hold him to account.”
The move to The Crystal was due to have started in the summer. Mayoral sources today denied it had been delayed, and said the GLA’s new home was “on track” to open by mid-December.
Last year the Standard revealed that the cost of converting The Crystal has soared from £8m to £13.6m – including £3.6m of security measures to protect Mr Khan and the assembly members.
Mr Khan first proposed the move in June last year to save £55m over five years. The latest estimate is for a saving of £61m over five years or £97m over 10 years.
The total amount of space in The Crystal is less than in City Hall – meaning staff will have to work from home for half the week or relocate permanently to Union Street or Transport for London’s Palestra building in Southwark.
A spokesperson for the Mayor said: “The Greater London Authority is on track to move to The Crystal building in the Royal Docks by Christmas, saving taxpayers £61m over five years.
“As part of the relocation, the GLA will leave its current home near London Bridge on November 26. Assembly meetings scheduled for the first week of December will still take place at the current City Hall and arrangements will be put in place to hold Assembly meetings due for later in the month at a suitable alternative location.”