Issues

Ignoring Public Opinion

The Garden Bridge Trust claim to have carried out widespread public consultation and engagement, yet in their own skewed poll they found out 90% of respondents had “never heard of” to knowing “a little” about their development.

They have continually refused to engage with local residents, opponents of their scheme and experts who disagree with them. They barely exist outside of press releases and carefully worded statements and have never shown any interest in engaging London residents.

As opposition has exponentially grown they have become more enclosed in their Somerset House office, arrogantly ignoring growing protest at their private development and constantly failing to answer legitimate questions about their project, funding and processes.

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Privatising Our City

The Garden Bridge is a private development, offering no legal right of way, destroying an existing public park and blocking world-famous publicviews. It would be run as a ‘Privately Owned Public Space’ and is symbolic of the increasing privatisation of our cities, designed for consumers not citizens and with stringent rules and regulations.

Private “Visitor Hosts” have the right to demand your name and address, remove items from you and search you and your bags without giving reason. You will not be allowed to behave in the space like you would genuinely public space and it is entirely designed around creating consumers of citizens and packaging the city to become an ‘experience’.

The Garden Bridge will become a tragic testament to the selling of our city to corporate greed. Every balustrade and bench will have company names on, each garden will be sponsored by organisations looking for a cheap and permanent advert, and the whole place will exist as a marketing opportunity. A stated purpose of the bridge is ‘regenerate’ two of the most expensive parts of the country, inflating the value of multi-million pound apartments on the north side of the Thames currently being offered to foreign investors. Thee whole bridge itself will be clad in metal from the discredited mining company Glencore, seek to polish and greenwash their tarnished name.

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Abuse of Public Money

Despite being in a period of austerity, £60m of public money is being given to the Garden Bridge with minimal protocol or conversation having taking place.

£30m is from Transport for London at a time when fares are rising, transport staff are striking for better wages and creaking infrastructure needs investment. £30m is from the Department for Transport after a unilateral decision by George Osborne following a conversation with Boris Johnson.

Not only is this a huge amount of money which could be used in far more important ways across London and the country, but the ways in which it has been decided to give it to the Garden Bridge are far from clear and many details have only emerged through Freedom Of Information requests and investigative work.

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No Good For Business

We are told that the Garden Bridge is ‘good for business’ – it isn’t. It is a money-sucking drain upon Londoners which will remain forever as a testament to waste, ego and lack of purpose with ongoing maintenance costs of £3.5m per annum likely to fall to taxpayers.

The business case for the Garden Bridge is an incredibly weak document which gives no confidence in the ability to raise £5m a year for maintenance and debt-repayment. It is partly sold on the ‘regeneration’ of the South Bank and Aldwych areas which are amongst the most expensive parts of the country to live in and are not short of development sites going ahead regardless of the Garden Bridge.

Nobody is opposed to tourist investment in London, but this isn’t the location which needs it. The South Bank already has as many tourists as can be squeezed in alongside some fantastic attractions. This new private attraction is projected to have 7m visitors a year, but these will not be ‘new’ London tourists just ones already on the South Bank being further compressed into a small area. To entice visitors to London to explore different areas of the city and spend their holiday money across more businesses would be hugely more beneficial economically as well as for regeneration of wider parts of the capital.

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No Transport Benefits

While £60m of public money from the Department for Transport & Transport for London are being given to the Garden Bridge it offers no public benefits and drains public funds of money which could be used elsewhere.

Its own transport study states that the new crossing saves only thirty seconds on a walk from Waterloo Station to the north bank of the Thames; not including the many flights of steps, a queue system and private security checks. It will be closed to public overnight and at least twelve times a year for private hire – hardly critical transport infrastructure.

At a time of transport cuts and fare rises, this money and energy could have made a real impact upon London’s transport while the £30m from the Department for Transport could be invested across the country to communities who require investment.

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Anti Democratic

It has increasingly become apparent that whole Garden Bridge project has avoided all normal democratic checks and balances. It is a private vanity project pushed by Boris Johnson for Joanna Lumley, someone he has known since he was four years old, and Thomas Heatherwick, his favoured designer who was appointed with no design contest or fair procurement.

Each week more details come out showing how this has been a total fix and not once have the thoughts of local residents, Londoners or taxpayers been considered, let along asking them any questions.

Improvements to London must happen from the community level upwards for them to have any impact on the problems of pollution, walkability, engagement and quality of our urban realm. In contrast, the Garden Bridge is totally top-down, an arrogant imposition forced right into the centre of the capital at the financial and societal expense of Londoners.

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Views Worth Saving

The views from Waterloo Bridge are admired the world over and in 2017 celebrate their 200th anniversary. They will be lost forever, along with important panoramas from the Southbank towards Somerset House and the City and views to the west from Blackfriars Bridge.

At the widest point of the River Thames as it hits central London, the vista takes in the city skyscrapers, St. Pauls Cathedral (who strongly oppose the Garden Bridge), as far as Docklands then onto the Shard through to the National Theatre on the South Bank.

These are public, free & 24/7 accessible views which are amongst the finest urban panoramas in the world. These should be protected as any of our collective history & heritage to be enjoyed for generations to come.

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Greenwashing

Despite having some trees on top, the Garden Bridge is an eco-disaster and deeply opposed by environmental organisations and horticultural experts.

‘Greenwash’ is when developers add the façade of environmentalism to a project to cover over actual ecological damage caused. Thousands of tonnes of carbon-emitting concrete will be poured into the Thames to support less than half a football pitch worth of planting, while the structure will be clad in Glencore mined metals in a weak attempt for the failing company to greenwash its huge environmental and human rights failings.

The Green Party, London Wildlife, London Beekeepers and numerous environment, gardening and horticultural experts condemn the Garden Bridge. There are numerous projects which genuinely tackle the big London & national environmental concerns which are crying out for a fraction of the funding given to this private tourist experience.

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