Doubts have been cast over whether the Greater London Authority will be able to move into The Crystal building in the Royal Docks before Christmas after pictures showed the extent of work still to be done.
Sadiq Khan announced plans last year to end the lease at City Hall and move the GLA to Greenwich’s doorstep to save around £55 million over five years.
But with members of the London Assembly and other GLA staff just weeks away from having to leave City Hall for their new base next to the London Cable Car, there are renewed fears that they will be left “homeless” as the state of The Crystal was revealed.
Assembly members were invited to tour their new home this week ahead of the move before Christmas but said they were greeted by a “building site”.
The chamber – where the mayor is scrutinised during Mayor’s Question Time – remains under construction, as do the committee rooms and visitor areas.
Staff at City Hall are expected to leave by November 26 and work is already under way to convert it back to a general use building, with security gates leading to party offices having been removed.
Following the visit to The Crystal this week, GLA Conservatives leader Susan Hall described it as “not a good place to be” and said it was “hard to see” how it would be ready to move into by the end of the year.
Hall said: “In a few short weeks, the London Assembly and the Mayor will be homeless. The Mayor’s bizarre decision to ship London’s regional government up the Thames is proving to be more ridiculous by the day.
“The longer the Crystal is delayed, the more it will cost the taxpayer and the greater disruption to City Hall’s work it will cause. We won’t let the Mayor escape scrutiny, but his decision to move buildings is no doubt going to impact the Greater London Authority’s ability to deliver on Londoners’ priorities.”
Last month GLA staff were told the building would be ready by mid December and that has now been moved to “before Christmas” but the extent of work that apparently still needs to be dome has cast doubts among GLA staff over whether that deadline will be met.
Liberal Democrat assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said that it is “now time for true openness” from Sadiq Khan about when the GLA’s new home will be ready, as well as “the real costs resulting from his decision”.
Critics said last month that moving costs had already soar by 70 per cent to £13.6 million.
While work on the interior of the building still needs to be completed, sources say that the road layout near the building also needs to be altered for security reasons.
It is understood that several temporary locations for a Mayor’s Question Time on December 16 and committee meetings are being considered in the meantime, including the Barbican and the London Fire Brigade headquarters in Southwark.
Despite this, Sadiq Khan remains confident that the GLA is “on track” to move into The Crystal by the end of the year.
A spokesperson the mayor said: “The Greater London Authority (GLA) is on track to move to its new home in the Royal Docks by Christmas and also to save taxpayers £61m over the next five years. The programme for preparing The Crystal building has been incredibly tight from the beginning of the project, but good progress is being made. Although there is still work to do, the GLA looks forward to moving into the building as planned in December.”
Joe Talora is the Local Democracy Reporter for the Greater London Authority. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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