Latest News

Ian Taylor, The Garden Bridge & War

30 Jul 2016

Following on from the recent A Bridge Too Far article looking into the relationship between the Garden Bridge Trust and Glencore, along with their child labour, death squads, tax evasion and more, now we look at another of their key donors.

In another contribution from SouthBankTales the critical eye falls on The Taylor Family Foundation and that greenest of industries, oil.

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Garden Bridge Trust Withhold Financial Details For “Administrative Purposes”

29 Jul 2016

The Garden Bridge Trust were today due to file their accounts with Companies House and the Charities Commission. But, whoops, they didn’t. Don’t worry though because it’s nothing to do with intense scrutiny into their finances, the deep research into the project new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is carrying out or the investigation by the Charities Commission. It’s all because of “administrative purposes”, apparently.

Both the Guardian and Financial Times reported on the strange decision to ignore the requirement to file financial information, while in Evening Standard world an hilarious la-di-da comment piece with lies was published instead.

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Some Other Bridges

28 Jul 2016

Some people have been shocked that the Garden Bridge Trust claim to have spent £37m of our money purely on a planning application, pre-contract work and some PR. A regular comparison is the Millennium Bridge over the Thames which cost £22m to build.

So here is a quick look at some other bridges to see what has been built for less than the £175m Garden Bridge (and one which is more expensive, but a truly remarkable feat, unlike the Lumlywick trite).

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The Hanging Gardens Of London & Sarah Sands’ Confused Mind

26 Jul 2016

Today’s Evening Standard had a comment piece from its editor, Sarah Sands, titled “London needs to show why it has to be the leader“. A bit of a confused conflation of thoughts in her head, it starts off talking about Brexit, then the arts before finishing with a brilliant short section on the Garden Bridge.

 

Sands manages quite a feat to fit so much weirdness into two short paragraphs and she has history in fighting for the project so loved of her two good friends Boris Johnson and Thomas Heatherwick. In fact, it is possible that she is using her position and newspaper to push for the Garden Bridge as a ‘thankyou’ to Johnson who is said to have got her the job of editor at the Evening Standard in the first place.

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The Stuttering Finale Of The Garden Bridge

25 Jul 2016

Tonight both the Financial Times and BBC’s Newsnight covered the Garden Bridge. As you can see on the Archive page of this website which shows just some of the media coverage since 2013, any time an intelligent journalist or critical eye looks at the development they write fair and damning articles. Obviously not the Evening Standard though…

The Financial Times followed on from the recent articles explaining that the Garden Bridge Trust had written to the new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling asking for an extension to the Department for Transport underwriting which expires this September. But their article goes a bit further and states that it has “been delayed until at least the Autumn”.

Then a Newsnight article reported that “government guarantees underwriting it may be about to evaporate” and asked “will it ever be built at all?”, while in the FT article a spokesperson for the GBT said “there have been some hold-ups to the project.”

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Glencore – Proud Sponsors Of The Garden Bridge

24 Jul 2016

Recently A Bridge Too Far wrote about the use of children as soft PR by the Garden Bridge Trust. This use of participation projects to cover up something more dubious can be called “artwashing

In a similar vein, ‘greenwashing‘ is when a corporation attempts to cover up its less than savoury activities by funding or supporting a project which appears to be environmentally good.

Even though the Garden Bridge is in no way an ecologically good project, it’s false facade of greenery offers a suitable image for some companies to get some cheap Greenwash – international mining company Glencore for example. Glencore are donating £10m of their metals to clad the Garden Bridge. So let’s learn a little about their business in a post contributed by SouthBankTales.

 

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Contacting Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

23 Jul 2016

Garden Bridge Trust staff-members are long used to forcing their project forwards against huge obstructions. Not only is there the massive, and exponentially growing, public opposition to what they want to do to the Thames, but they don’t have all the planning conditions signed off, are lacking the lease variation for the South Bank public park they wish to build a commercial unit over and the mayor still hasn’t signed off on underwriting of the £3.5m pa maintenance – which, if Sadiq stays true to his word of refusing to risk more public money, he won’t be doing so.

Then there is the Charity Commission inquiry into the GBT, the National Audit Office inquiry into the Department for Transport £30m funding, a mayoral review into the procurement, an audit by Ernst & Young (pdf) (who are sponsors of the bridge – so no conflict of interest there!) into the TfL procurement, the new report ripping apart their pathetic business plan and, last but not least, the Judicial Review over loss of public land.

All in all, with so much in the way of them delivering this private tourist attraction for their developer friends and entitled contacts, the signs are that they are panicking as realisation of their slow demise is dawning on them. This week they got their Chairman, Lord Davies of Abersoch, to write to the new Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, to plead for an extension of the deadline for £15m public funded underwriting of insurance to their project. I will pull apart the article in the increasingly irrelevant Evening Standard below, but first do see how you can help make sure this nail is hammered into the Garden Bridge’s coffin.

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Will Someone Think Of The Children?

22 Jul 2016

This weekend, the 23rd and 24th July, there is a great family festival created to let children discover architecture and take part in workshops led by artists and architects across the city to open up creative urban thinking to the next generation. However, there is a session titled “Design your own Garden Bridge” which opens up a window into the unsettling nature in which children are frequently used as pawns in the Garden Bridge’s soft PR.

It is fantastic that kids are introduced to creativity, architecture and design from a young age, but the co-opting of children into a PR campaign or political argument, as we have seen with both the Garden Bridge Trust and Sadiq Khan, can be extremely problematic. It seems that many people are thinking of the children, but perhaps not always for the most genuine reasons.

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New Independent Garden Bridge Report Destroys Its Business Plan

21 Jul 2016

A report has been carried out into the business plan (pdf) developed by the Garden Bridge Trust to raise the millions needed annually for maintenance, paying public debts and contingency.

TfL and, latterly, Sadiq Khan have said that they have looked at the Garden Bridge’s business plan and see no risk to public finance, indeed it was one of the conditions of the TfL ‘loan’ of £20m.

However, even a layman can flick through it and laugh at some of the costings they have made. But when an expert like Dan Anderson, author of the report, takes a critical eye to it the whole document falls apart as a deeply flawed and flimsy thing.

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Heatherwick’s Failure #1 – New Routemaster

19 Jul 2016

2008, the year London got a new mayor to replace Ken Livingstone. It seems such a long time ago now, possibly because the 8 years under part-time mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson seemed to drag interminably on, punctuated by sporadic pointless, expensive transport projects.

The first of these was the promise to replace Livingstone’s bendy-buses with a brand, spanking “New bus for London”. We ended up with what is now nicknamed the “Roastmaster”, Thomas Heatherwick’s genius sauna-on-wheels which today, the hottest day of the year, has seen a relentless rolling twitter feed of complaints from exasperated sweating commuters. But just how did this most problematic, expensive and flawed of designs get to even be a thing?

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Meet The Garden Bridge Trust At Lambeth Country Show

16 Jul 2016

This weekend at Lambeth Country Show you get a unique opportunity – to critically ask questions and interrogate the Garden Bridge Trust. This ‘charity’ which does all it can to secrete itself away deep in the publicly-funded offices in Somerset House doesn’t usually put itself in a position to meet the hoi polloi, so this is a fantastic opportunity – but act quickly as the Show is only open this weekend so Sunday 17th July offers your rare chance.

However, they aren’t making it easy for you to find them, so let A Bridge Too Far help…

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The Slow Death of the Garden Bridge

11 Jul 2016

First thing today the Guardian and Architects’ Journal dropped a story titled “London mayor Sadiq Khan blocks extra funds for garden bridge” and “London mayor halts Garden Bridge construction work” respectively.

So let’s see what it means for the slow death of this disaster-in-the-making.

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The Size Of The Gardens

10 Jul 2016

On this day of sporting finals, let’s take a quick look at the amount of ‘green’ on the Garden Bridge.

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How Heatherwick Got Here

7 Jul 2016

While the Garden Bridge is surrounded by controversies, legal action, government inquiries, massive public opposition and criticism from environmentalists the development’s designer, Thomas Heatherwick, doesn’t appear to have so much as a shrapnel wound from the warzone he has created.

Incredibly, this week it was announced that Goldsmiths College are awarding Heatherwick  an honorary fellowship and he will present at this week’s students’ graduation ceremony. How a college known for its political drive and history of imbuing students with a sense of the social good and deep thinking can give this award at such a time that the Garden Bridge is becoming the standout symbol of all that is wrong with the modern city and politics is astounding.

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Further Garden Bridge Inquiries

1 Jul 2016

It has been discovered that there are new inquiries into the Garden Bridge by the National Audit Office and the Charities Commission. This means there are now four ongoing official inquiries into the development, as well as the judicial review into what is increasingly looking like a monument to Boris Johnson and all he represents.

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The State Of London Debate

1 Jul 2016

At the annual State Of London Debate many issues were discussed, but none raised the temperature of the room so much as the Garden Bridge. After trying to avoid answering the questions and relying on tired stock-responses, Sadiq Khan eventually said he’d “pull the plug” on the project if it “becomes unfeasible”.

Londoners were queuing up at the O2 to see Sadiq Khan be quizzed over his mayorship. Among their number were Thames Central Open Spaces who find events like this the only way to engage with a mayor who refuses to meet with the local community or opponents for an adult conversation.

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