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Monday, 16 May 2011

"Taxi for Mr Coleman!"

It's traditional for hecklers to call out that a cab has arrived for a struggling stand-up comedian who's in the middle of 'dying' on stage, to signal that it's time for him to 'get off'. One man who sadly isn't funny is Cllr Brian Coleman, the Conservative London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden. I have never had a personal axe to grind against Brian, having always got on perfectly well with him when we have bumped into each other on the local political scene. But this is now getting ridiculous; in fact, it got more than ridiculous some time ago. It is simply astonishing to read news of Mr Coleman's expenses claims as Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). Does Brian not realise that most working people only get a taxi paid for by their employer in extreme circumstances, not as a matter of routine? 

This follows a bizarre story in February about Mr Coleman attending an extravagant lunch to mark the retirement of a fire officer - as if the rest of us ever get our leaving do's paid for by our employer, in this instance at the taxpayer's expense! And his mother was there in her capacity as "the Chairman's Lady" - why on Earth does a modern committee like LFEPA have an official role for "the Chairman's Lady"? What is this - a fire authority in 2011, or a dinner-dance in Walmington-on-Sea circa 1943? This has all got to change. I am not surprised that Boris Johnson has condemned Brian Coleman's expenses and something must be done. But then if people choose to vote Conservative and re-elect Brian Coleman despite all this, then they have only themselves to blame.

UPDATE: My Lib Dem colleague Mark Park has also posted about this matter to great effect.

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