London mayor Sadiq Khan's money saving City Hall move branded 'misleading' by probe

Sadiq Khan’s claim to have saved Londoners more than £60m by closing City Hall has been branded ‘misleading’ by an official probe.

The Greater London Authority - made up of the mayor, London Assembly members and staff - left the distinctive riverside headquarters next to Tower Bridge in November after Mr Khan refused to renew the lease.

He argued relocating the GLA to the Crystal, a former exhibition centre in Newham, would save council taxpayers £61m over five years.

But an investigation by the GLA Oversight Committee has revealed the saving would be just £37m.

The controversial move was delayed by five months as work to convert the Crystal over ran.

The planned opening date in October 2021 was postponed at least six times before staff finally sat at their new desks in March 2022.

The committee said the cost of holding some meetings in the new HQ before it was ready added an extra £100,000 to the final bill.

The meetings meant construction workers were stood down for five days at a cost of £85,000.

Empty foyer at the old site of City Hall on London's Southbank

And there was further criticism of the mayor for failing to disclose the full cost of restoring the old City Hall to its original condition before the keys were handed back - known as dilapidation costs.

And the committee questioned a commitment to Newham Council to hire 50% of all new City Hall recruits from borough residents.

“An overall theme of the City Hall relocation was the ‘aggressive’ timescale of the project, which appeared unwarranted to us, given the success of the temporary accommodation at Union Street,” said Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the GLA Oversight Committee

She added: “And most importantly, the claim of a £61 million saving over 5 years was clearly misleading – with the real saving somewhere in the vicinity of £37 million.”

City Hall rejected the London Assembly's figures.

Former site of City Hall on London's Southbank

A spokesperson for the Greater London Authority, said: “The relocation of City Hall is saving £61m over five years to invest in London’s recovery from the pandemic and protect vital services including policing, the London Fire Brigade and the transport network.

“The new City Hall is already proving to be popular with both staff and Londoners - and a busy and vibrant home for London government.

“The Mayor thanks the Oversight Committee for their work and will respond in due course.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...