London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has used his regular “chicken feed” generating column for the Telegraph to try and get readers to look at Mil The Younger, or indeed, anywhere except what is happening in London as a result of his leadership, or perhaps that should read lack of it. Bozza is increasingly leaving the shop to others to run.
Why he might want to shift attention to kicking Miliband is not difficult to fathom: even this far away from the end of his second term as Mayor, the combination of drift and waste is becoming all too obvious, as is Bozza’s tendency to get flaky under pressure, which resulted in him losing his rag at a recent Mayor’s Question Time and telling a Labour AM to “stick it up your ...”.
If only he had exhibited such indignation when it was revealed that the latest Thomas Heatherwick boondoggle, the Garden Bridge, would not be entirely funded by the private sector after all, but would require at least £60 million of public subsidy, and the distinct possibility that the public purse would have to pick up the tab for maintenance if sponsorship and merchandise could not meet demands.
It got worse: the much-vaunted new Thames crossing would not be a public thoroughfare, any group larger than eight people would need permission to cross it, there would be no additional toilet facilities in the vicinity, despite the expected crowds, it would not be open 24 hours a day, and would not be open every day of the year. But it would be extremely stylish.
So why is it passing through the planning process? Well, Lambeth Council, whose domain includes the South Bank, has passed the application, and City of Westminster, who look after the North Bank, looks likely to follow suit. Never mind the objections from all those lawyers in the Middle Temple, and the inconvenient fact that several conventional bridges could be built for the money.
Bozza has become absent from the whole exercise, as he appears to have done as Transport for London (TfL) have taken it upon themselves to order another 200 of Bozza’s vanity buses, for which there will now, it has effectively been admitted, be no export orders at all, meaning all those tours abroad were a waste of money. Worse, the latest Euro VI compliant ones have gained over 300kg in weight.
Why have another 200 been ordered when there is no contractual obligation on TfL to do so, and when costs are under ever-greater pressure? We don’t get to find out, and Bozza isn’t going to go there while he’s got one eye on taking over the relatively safe Tory seat of Uxbridge next year. Nor will he go near those new concept Tube trains that have drivers’ cabs, but no money to pay for them.
With that kind of legacy, it’s no wonder he wants to divert attention elsewhere.