A new Freedom of Information request made by the MayorWatch blog, has revealed that TfL transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, spent almost £7,000 of taxpayer cash on mobile phone bills between March and November in 2014.
Last February MayorWatch reported that TfL’s contract with O2, worth around £2.5m per year, doesn’t include any pre paid minutes to other phones outside of the TfL network.
Taxi Leaks new technical correspondent Dave Denney said:
“It only takes a few minutes to get a mobile data plan contract with O2 which includes unlimited calls and text, plus large data allowances. The lack of inclusive minutes options have resulted in some managers individually racking up hundreds of pounds in call charges each month.”
The solution is simple, but it’s obvious (as it’s not their own money they’re spending), they couldn’t be bothered to get better value.
And yet this is the authority who recently insulted the Taxi trade saying “we” needed to be bought into the 21st century.
London Assembly members have regularly suggested that TfL managers fail to get best value for taxpayers.
Perhaps there are grounds for a new GLA inquiry, to find out why these managers never tried to secure better value deals. Before any performance related bonuses are dished out this year, this major incompetence should be taken into account.
In August 2014, Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross called on Sir Peter Hendy to get TfL to review their mobile contracts after it emerged that minor managers were incurring huge bills. Unfortunately for the tax payer, this review doesn’t seem to have taken place. Surely an indication of the disrespect that TfL have for the opinions of London Assembly members.
The latest FoI disclosure on the MayorWatch blog shows Hendy routinely spent more than £500 a month on calls, excluding VAT, between March and November 2014
His most expensive bills were incurred in May and November when he spent £1,553 and £1,441 excluding VAT respectively. TfL says both months include some calls made and received when outside the UK.
It is possible to purchase specific SIM cards which offer international rates to and from abroad, for as little as 1p per minute. FaceTime on iPhones as well as most Skype calls on Andriod are free worldwide. Hendy’s mobile bills for the nine months covered by the latest disclosure, cost taxpayers £6,717.21 excluding VAT.
Perhaps Sir Peter and his top managers would like to consider paying back these unreasonable call charges out of their huge performance related bonuses.
TfL, is currently consulting on ways it can become more open and transparent after the GLA report that fond them woefully inadequate.
They are to start publishing regular quarterly updates on mobile costs, on their website.
It’s one thing publishing these details, but another actually doing something about it.
The solutions are out there, TfL managers have failed to look for them. Perhaps its time for a new broom from City Hall to sweep TfL clean.
Editorial Comment from Jim Thomas:
It only took me 5 minutes online to find what I feel is a very competitive 12 month O2 contract. With a bit more time and the power to negotiate for the £2.5m contract, a discount could be widely available.
12 month contract: Unlimited Calls: Unlimited Texts: 3GB of Data + 4G ready, £20.00 per month.
It would appear TfL’s IT department managers on 6 figure salaries can’t negotiate this type of deal for such a huge operation. Perhaps they need to be bought into the 21st Century…or find another job.