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Saturday 12 March 2016

Another Boris Waste Of Money

As if London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson did not have enough money wasting landmarks to his name - the vanity Cable Car, the vanity buses that are not Routemasters, the questionable award of jobs to his supporters, and the purchase of water cannons that cannot be used on the capital’s streets, for instance - there is now the saga of the Garden Bridge.
Behold another colossal waste of taxpayer funds

This is a true White Elephant: tens of millions have been pledged by TfL and central Government to a scheme that will cost several times more than a simple pedestrian and cyclist bridge, and for what? The thing would be closed for corporate events on several days a year, cycling would be banned, and all manner of other activities would be strictly proscribed. In addition, views along the Embankment would be ruined.

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 toldthe 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.


Gonzoland said...

Garden bridge? No.
Some hanging gardens with real hangings would be nice.

Anonymous said...

What!?......More London corruption and theft of national wealth?

Quelle surprise.


The sooner that shit hole is shipped off to Washington DC the better for the health of this country. It's a wonder the place doesn't fall to pieces, it's that rotten.

AndyC said...

I was wondering when you'd get round to this sordid saga.

urbanpenguin said...

It is not so much that Lumley is behind it, more that it is her baby. She came up with the egotrip of an idea as a memorial for Dianna back in 1998 and immediately started using her entitled connections to push for it politically and enable it. Nobody bit until Boris Johnson in 2012, and it helped that she had known him since he was four years old.

The whole sordid tale is far more murkier than you suggest in your blog. Have a read of articles on www.afollyforlondon.co.uk/article and http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2985103/londons_garden_bridge_a_damaging_folly_at_public_expense.html


TCOS said...

Just to add to this fine article: we've been campaigning to stop this boondoggle since 2014 as we recognised immediately that Lumely & co wanted to exploit the finest views of London but it would actually destroy those protected views. If it was built. Westminster council acknowledged that if it didn't have some public access, then the private bridge over the Thames - the most expensive footbridge in the world - would've been refused planning permission.

Just as important is that it would create serious overcrowding of Hillsborough-disaster style proportions in one of, if not the busiest tourist destination in the UK.

And of course there simply wasn't a need for it and no one asked for it except Lumley, Heatherwick and corporate developers who stand to make a fortune showcasing luxury flats/offices on the north bank.

Think how much £60m of public funds could help the rest of the country's falling tourist attractions. It's not all about London.

Some facts:
- the Garden Bridge will be privatising public space on the South Bank which is currently a right of way 24/7, 365 days a year.
- the open space on the South Bank was left to the public in particular for those who don't have a garden. This will be gone if the large commercial building is built for greedy leaseholders Coin Street Community Builders who should be building more social housing.
- the Garden Bridge would be clad in copper nickel sourced from vile conglomerate Glencore who has an aappalling human rights record and is infamous for polluting rivers in the Congo and Zambia as well as tax- dodging. Oh and their company is in huge debt and shares at an all time low.
- the bridge will not only be closed for 12 corporate events, it'll be closed for public holidays, events such as the NYE fireworks, filming opportunities, state occasions etc. And if you pay £20k per year for corporate membership, you can close part of the bridge for "Breakfast on the Bridge" events at peak commuter times. Hardly for the public is it?

Please check out our website for details on how to stop the Garden Bridge www.tcos.org.uk

Anonymous said...

At a Greener London hustings last week Labour Mayor candidate Sadiq Khan was given the opportunity to commit to abandoning the Garden Bridge. He failed to do so, merely saying that £30M had already been spent on it - as if that were justification for continuing with the white elephant. Evidently Khan's economic understanding has not developed since Labour lost power.

Both the Green and Libdem candidates did say they would abandon it.

Zac of course is very much in favour of finishing the job Boris started.