Behold another colossal waste of taxpayer funds
We are told that actor and campaigner Joanna Lumley is strongly in favour of the scheme. Well, fine, let her run for elective office and lobby for it in that way, rather than bending the hapless Bozza to her will. And it gets a lot worse: we now find out that bridge designer Thomas Heatherwick, the culprit of the New Bus For London fiasco, met TfL officials four times before the procurement process opened - which he then won.
You think I jest? The Architects Journal extracted the information via FoI requests, and its managing editor Will Hirst has told “the process smells very bad … What alarmed me was that Wilkinson Eyre and Marks Barfield [the other two firms invited to take part in the procurement process] were outscored by Heatherwick on bridge design experience … I thought how on Earth can that be fair given that Heatherwick had only designed one tiny bridge in Paddington. The other two firms had designed many, many bridges”.
Heatherwick “first met officials on 24 September 2012, with London Mayor Boris Johnson in attendance … At the next meeting on 17 December 2012, Mr Heatherwick met a deputy mayor to discuss what was described as the "next steps" for a Garden Bridge … There was then a planning proposal meeting on 31 January 2013 and a final meeting - with Mr Johnson in attendance - on 1 February 2013”.
As the environmental impact of this ridiculous idea becomes more widely understood, and Londoners realise that it will consume taxpayer funds not just during its construction, but for many years afterwards, support is not exactly universal, despite a TfL spokesman claiming “Work on building the bridge is due to begin this year and is widely supported by Londoners”. Work on building that bridge should not be allowed to start.
One procurement expert has told “The procurement process of the Garden Bridge is littered with procedural irregularities. It is not one of the best examples of a procurement process in the UK” and, as the BBC has reported, “the head of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Jane Duncan, has previously called for the Garden Bridge project to be halted and scrutinised before more public money is spent”.
How about it, Mayoral aspirants? Say before May’s elections - well before - that you would stop the Boondoggle if elected. If Ms Lumley is so keen on the idea, she can stand against the winner in 2016 and try her luck that way.