New mayor Ken rejects costly 'Soapdish' HQ

Ken Livingstone yesterday cast doubt on the future of lavish new Greater London Assembly building on his first full day as London Mayor.

Mr Livingstone refused to give his firm support to the headquarters near Tower Bridge. Dubbed by some the "Orb" or the "Soapdish", the centre, designed by Norman Foster, is expected to cost £8m a year to run compared with £2m at of the Greater London Assembly's temporary home in Marsham Street, Westminster.

Construction costs of the futuristic Orb are estimated at £150m. Now a building site it is due for completion in 2002.

"It's going to take months to decide," said Mr Livingstone. "It will be a joint decision. But the criteria is to do it as cheaply as possible."

He is also thought to have used a 20-minute telephone call with the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to lobby for more money for the Capital.

The GLA's budget stands at £3.6bn but Mr Livingstone said yesterday: "I really want this system to work and I am hoping to get a bit more money for tackling our problems - that is the major issue."

Labour has now admitted "control freakery" may have cost them the victory and has promised to change the rules to select candidates.

Future American-style primaries for the party's nominees to stand as prospective mayors in the other British cities tipped for devolution will not be run in the same way as the disastrous London debacle.

Senior Labour sources insisted no one would be playing the "blame game". No individual or set of people would be scapegoated.

But internal party elections will be reviewed, spelling the end of the electoral college system which robbed Mr Livingstone of the Labour nomination and bred resentment against Frank Dobson, Mr Blair's favourite.

"It is about the way the party operates, the way the different bits of the party work together generally. That will include a review of how we select candidates, specifically for devolved institutions like the mayoral contest," the source said. "There is an acceptance that the system has not really worked properly. People have complained about them and we want to listen to their complaints and act on them.

"People felt the electoral college was inappropriate for the selection of the Mayor of London."

Mr Blair and his most senior advisers were repeatedly accused of being "control freaks" and many claimed they were trying to "rig" the selection process.

But despite admitting a mistake had been made, the Labour Party was reluctant to take all the blame without having a dig at Mr Livingstone.

"We are unlikely to have such contentious contests in other areas and that is simply a function of Ken," said the Labour source.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells