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THE GARDEN BRIDGE SECRETS OF JOHNSON, TFL & KHAN

20 Jan 2017

A lot of attention has been put onto the Garden Bridge Trust and their lack of public consultation, communication and the general way they have hidden behind spin, PR, trickery and legalities. But there are other, arguably more concerning, ways in which the truth is being concealed from the public from our elected bodies.

This is a quick look at the ways Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan and TfL have attempted to close transparency, discussion and understanding of the Garden Bridge.

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THE ACCOUNTS STATE THE FINAL COST MAY “SUBSTANTIALLY EXCEED” £185m

11 Jan 2017

The wait is over! The accounts for year-ending 31 March 2016 have finally been published. We had been expecting them last July but at the very last moment the GBT delayed publication “for administrative purposes”.

It was thought at the time that the delay was simply to bide more time and to conceal the precarious nature of the project from us public (who are paying for it), the donors and politicians. However, even with a six month “administrative” delay it is not good reading for the stakeholders of the project and the donors who haven’t abandoned ship.

There are a few nuggets in there, a highlight being that the Trusteees admit that the final cost “may substantially exceed £185m”. The whole project must be stopped before more damage is wreaked.

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7 Jan 2017

The Garden Bridge Trust are headed up by twelve Trustees, each carefully picked not from the local residential community but from a well networked strata of the corporate, financial and political good. And Joanna Lumley.

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7 Jan 2017

Being a private development the Garden Bridge Trust can set a long list of rules for those they accept onto their property. Despite their project demanding vast sums of public money, it causing huge damage to public heritage views and it destroying a public park you will only be allowed on the bridge if you agree to and abide by their rules.

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7 Jan 2017

The Garden Bridge is privately owned and offers no legal right of way. Like any privately owned public space there will be different levels of private policing, from ‘visitor hosts’ in a friendly uniform who smile as they great you and advice on your expected queuing wait to get on, through to private security and then to the invisible forces – the wifi monitoring system and CCTV linked to anonymous people in a room somewhere.

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7 Jan 2017

Normally, when something infrastructural like a bridge is designed, it is a deeply considered architectural object which sits gently within the urban context it is designed for. However, as the Garden Bridge was designed for a separate location entirely and simply plonked, like any other Heatherwick model upgraded from 1:200 scale to 1:1, in the middle of a world heritage site it doesn’t have a great relationship with the river banks it sits upon.

This is no more obvious than when you consider the sheer number of steps needed to get on and off this most inelegant of impositions. Over 120 steps are needed if you are intending to use the Garden Bridge to get from the South Bank to Temple station, making a mockery of any backwards-engineered proposition the development is for transport or pedestrian connectivity.

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7 Jan 2017

The 31st December is to most people a day of celebration and looking forwards, but to the Garden Bridge Trust a day of stress and trepidation. For it was the day when they hadto file their most recent accounts.

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7 Jan 2017

When first mooted, after the sham procurements, it was misleadingly suggested that the Garden Bridge would cost £60m, with not a penny from public finances. Roll on three and a half years and the regular increasing costs of the development see the total currently standing at £185m of which £60m is from the public transport purse. This cost is only likely to rise and as the NAO stated it is likely that the public would be called on to bail out the Garden Bridge Trust for both any (growing) funding gap as well as potentially over £3m a year for maintenance costs.

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7 Jan 2017

The Garden Bridge has been or is under scrutiny from five probes:

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7 Jan 2017

The Garden Bridge will destroy four of the world’s finest urban vistas: looking east from Waterloo Bridge, looking northeast from the South Bank towards St. Pauls, looking northwest from the South Bank towards Somerset House and looking west from Blackfriars Bridge towards Waterloo Bridge.

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7 Jan 2017

On their website, the Garden Bridge Trust claim:

The operations jobs will largely be private security and office management (for a bridge!). As for the construction jobs, there may be a few Workfare positions but the bridge would actually be pre-fabricated in Italy by Cimolai and constructed on site by a French Contractor, Bouyges. It isn’t clear where these hundreds of construction jobs will come from or how they will benefit any of the taxpayers funding the private development.

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7 Jan 2017

The Garden Bridge never had a design competition, nobody even asked for a design. TfL set up a small procurement for a feasibility study for options and ideas of a hypothetical Thames crossing, created small so as to avoid European regulations. Heatherwick ‘won’ this even though experts state he should have been disqualified for not answering the brief which was to “examine the potential for a footbridge… considering a number of different locations and taking into account a range of constraints in the area…. and test broad options”.

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