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Anorak | British spite rules! The grotesque Garden Bridge is dead

British spite rules! The grotesque Garden Bridge is dead

by | 15th, August 2017

Hurrah! Boris Johnson’s vulgar Garden Bridge will not happen. Londoners should rejoice that this corporate carbuncle is dead. But not everyone is pleased. The Times says the Garden Bridge over the River Thames was “killed off by ‘spiteful’ mayor at cost of £50m”. Reading that you might suppose London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s spite cost £50m. But you’d be wrong.

 

garden bridge

Turning the Thames into a moat

 

The comment was made by Johnson, now foreign secretary, who opined: “It is so sad that Sadiq Khan has killed the Garden Bridge and wasted so much time and money. Labour has no vision for London and no ambition. The garden bridge was a beautiful project. The Labour mayor claimed to support it but killed it out of spite – because it was not initiated in his period of office. The only crumb of comfort is that good plans have been developed and can be readily revived.”

Good plans for a vanity project. Maybe they can be sold to Dubai or some other place where style of the obvious and expensive sort masks the lack of substance? The grotesque bridge Johnson’s childhood pal Joanna Lumley called a “tiara for the Thames” was much more a space for corporate shindigs than a useful and grand public crossing. Situated 200 metres from an existing bridge, the Garden Bridge was to be accessed by stairs or lift, closed between midnight and 6am and for several days a year (so the corporate well off can enjoy it) and paid for by £37.4m of public funding.

Whereas New York’s High Line gives the city a green walkway made out of a former elevated rail track on stilts, the bridge – five times the square-foot cost of the High Line – was a skin-deep marketing venture.

So why does the Times lead with the “spite” and not the soaring costs of the expensive eyesore? The paper features a “strongly worded letter to Mr Khan” from Lord Davies of Abersoch, chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, in which he moans: “About £9 million of public funds has been committed since the mayoral election, and had you made [in May 2016] the announcement you have made now, then most of that expenditure would have been avoided.”

Right enough. It should have been killed at the earliest opportunity. But if you’re going to focus on Khan’s costly dithering, why not mention also Johnson and his chums? The Times does note: “Although supporters had hoped that another benefactor would rescue the project, the estimated cost rose from £60 million to £200 million”. It was going to cost a lot more – and what of the ongoing maintenance?

And then this:

Despite raising £70 million in pledges, including £20 million from the Monument Trust, a charity, £10 million from Glencore, the mining company, and £5 million from Sky, a funding gap of £85 million remained.

So says the Times (prop, Rupert Murdoch) of Sky (prop. R. Murdoch). Part of the bridge the taxpayers funded and the elite wanted was to be named in honour of – yep – Sky.

The paper adds in “Behind the story”:

When work began in 2013, the Garden Bridge project showed every sign of flourishing and one day bearing fruit (Jonathan Morrison writes). It enjoyed the support of Boris Johnson, the London mayor and, through him, Transport for London; it had the blessing of George Osborne; and it enjoyed widespread support in the media and from celebrities.

Lumley loved it.

The design by Thomas Heatherwick, the man behind the London Olympics cauldron, was hailed as a masterpiece: showcasing, as the Games had done, the vein of optimism and genius running through Britain. Soon, £60 million had been allocated from the public purse.

A bad press helped to turn public opinion against the project…

Nah. The bad press had nothing to do with it’s spiking. Honesty did.



Posted: 15th, August 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink