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”.
Instead of answering this brief in any way Heatherwick simply presented his singular vision, singular location, Garden Bridge which had already been promoted and developed alongside TfL and Boris Johnson in secret. Even TfL admitted the procurement was “neither open nor objective“.
Immediately after this small £60k procurement, TfL then created a second, much larger one, to build the Garden Bridge. This was awarded to Arup, already working with Heatherwick and TfL in secret on the project, who then received nearly £10m of public money. Richard di Cani judged both procurements single handedly and then moved to Arup alongside Isabel Dedring, former deputy Mayor for Transport, who also helped gift Heatherwick the project. Corruption?
Both the GLA (PDF) and Project Compass published damning reports into the procurements while experts have called them “legally defective throughout” and “illegal, basically“. And new information still comes forward, we just found out that De Cani even persuaded the DfT to release funding to the project after he had agreed to join Arup but while he was still working for TfL – conflict of interest?
This post was originally part of The Garden Bridge 12 Days of Christmas.
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