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Sunday 7 June 2015

Boris Wastes More Millions

As if the badly implemented cycle hire scheme - no longer backed by Barclays Bank - along with the vanity cable car and its handful of regular commuters, and the vanity buses set to bake their passengers for the duration of the summer were not enough evidence of his propensity to spray taxpayer resources up the wall, London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has just committed to millions more spending.
The object of Bozza’s latest attack of generosity is the much-vaunted, and much over budget, Garden Bridge across the Thames, which is supposed to commence its construction phase next year, but in reality is in such deep financial trouble that it is being suggested the begging bowl is being waved at Harrods’ ultimate owner, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, in order to plug the alleged £47 million funding gap.

That, folks, is £47 million, as in £47 million even after TfL had stumped up, or had been caused to stump up, £30 million of taxpayer funds towards the cost. So what has Bozza signed off on this time? Ah well. The maintenance costs for the Garden Bridge have been estimated at around £3 million a year, and he had previously said that those raising the money for building it would have to find that themselves.

He went on LBC to tellmaintenance costs will not be borne by the public sector”. That was unequivocal, but then, so was the promise to extend Tramlink to Crystal Palace, and he reneged on that one - twice. And so it came to pass that, last Thursday, “the Mayor of London signed a formal decision agreeing to underwrite the future maintenance of the bridge in accordance with a planning condition imposed by the City of Westminster and a corresponding undertaking given to Lambeth Council by the Garden Bridge Trust”.

Bozza’s Ron Hopeful get out clause is to claim that “According to the City Hall report signed off by Mr Johnson, there is ‘the clear expectation that the guarantees ... will not need to be called upon’ because the Garden Bridge Trust's income is forecast to exceed its expenditure”. London Assembly members are not so sure.

Indeed, only the previous day “the London Assembly voted 11-3 in support of a motion calling for Transport for London's £30 million contribution to the bridge's capital costs to be withdrawn, and highlighting grave concerns about the procurement process … The motion was proposed by Lib Dem assembly member Caroline Pidgeon and seconded by Labour's Val Shawcross. It was also backed by Green Party assembly members”.

So while Richard Rogers eulogises about the Garden Bridge this weekend, the reality is that the latest Heatherwick boondoggle faces an uncertain future. An ordinary pedestrian bridge - perhaps with access to cyclists, which the Garden Bridge will not provide - could be had for a fraction of the cost. But the Mayor who secured office partly by accusing his predecessor of wasting public funds is looking the other way while doing just that.

Anyone else would have been leant on to leave office. But not Bozza the Teflon clown.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah but Teflon is useful stuff. Boris just stuffs us. We can stop him though; we're continuing the legal fight against his vanity project www.everyclick.com/tcos and we encourage you to email Lambeth Council to not dispose of public land so the garden bridge can be built. Details here - deadline June 16th: http://www.tcos.org.uk/index.php/8-latest-news/16-another-chance-to-stop-the-sale-of-public-land-for-private-development-write-to-lambeth-council-here