And so, after London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan acted on the report he commissioned from Margaret Hodge on the Garden Bridge project and declined to spray any more taxpayers’ money up the wall on it, those involved in this leftover vanity project from the ruinous City Hall terms of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson have finally admitted defeat and formally thrown in the towel. The vanity Garden Bridge idea has been scrapped.
A total muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
Some are demanding a public inquiry. Labour London Assembly member Tom Copley was in no doubt where the blame lay for the débâcle: “It is a scandal that the cheerleaders for the bridge were allowed to waste so much public money by [Khan’s] predecessor. Boris Johnson drove forward this vanity project during his mayoralty, and the lion’s share of the blame for this whole debacle must fall at his feet”.
The numbers tell their own story: £37 million, perhaps rising to £45 million, has been spent - for which, read wasted - on this whitest of white elephants. Even then, it would have needed probably another £70 million, on top of he money pledged, to finish the project. No new backers have come forward in the past year. The land for the southern end of the bridge was never secured. The procurement process was questionable.
And there is only one person to blame for all of this: Bozza himself. It was, along with the vanity cable car, the vanity bus fleet, the preposterous Arcelor Mittal Orbit pile of stylish scrap at the Olympic Park, and the water cannon, another example of his wastefulness.
But by mere coincidence, none of the usual suspects out there on the right so much as raised a finger against Bozza’s largesse. There were no complaints from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, not a peep from the IEA, CPS or ASI, not a murmur from the right-wing press. Bozza could do no wrong. Hurrah for Bozza!
An artist's impression, which will remain just that
So it should surprise no-one that, as the scales fall from the eyes of those who believed all along that the former Mayor was some kind of saint, the Tories and other establishment toadies are rallying to blame not their man, but Sadiq Khan. You think I jest? One look at today’s Evening Standard editorial is all you need.
The detachment from reality is off the scale: “The Garden Bridge project has been scrapped because the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, failed to give it his backing”. No, it’s been scrapped because it wasn’t a viable idea. “It was a brilliant and imaginative plan to put the river centre-stage in London, designed by one of the most distinguished contemporary British architects”. It was a gigantic waste of money, in other words.
“London will be the poorer for this decision”. Will it buggery. “It would have taken boldness and political courage to back the plan; they were not forthcoming”. No, it would have taken a politically suicidal nincompoop prepared to piss away the thick end of another £100 million. And dead right it wasn’t forthcoming.
But enough of this drivel: there is only one reason the Standard is playing “look over there” - to deflect from Bozza’s all too obvious liability for the fiasco, a project which, it should not be forgotten, was refused funding by his predecessor Ken Livingstone.
Boris Johnson should be on the hook for that £37 million. So get your wallet out, Bozza.