We knew that the Garden Bridge Trust wouldn’t be happy with the inevitable decision by Sadiq Khan to follow Margaret Hodge’s advice and withdraw support for their development. But what has their response been? In three posts we look at how the three of the protagonists responded to the news.
First up: Joanna Lumley
In an interview with The Times, Lumley gave her response to the news that her own publicly funded privately owned memorial to herself was sinking. The Times is the employee of Garden Bridge misTrustee Clare Foges and has been used on a number of occasions for soft PR for the developers. This wasn’t going to be a critical interview or interrogation of Lumley who, let’s not forget, is talking to the paper not as a dreamy actor but as a Trustee of a £200m+ charity.
She started with:
Don’t forget that, whatever your views of Brexit, her friend and co-collaborator on the Garden Bridge Boris Johnson was responsible for the nation pulling down the shutters. Then she plays the “party politics” line. This accusation is completely false – the chair of the Garden Bridge Trust, Mervyn Davies, is a Labour peer and London Assembly Members of every party called for Sadiq to stop the Bridge. Politicians and supporters of all parties unite against the clear dodginess of Lumley’s folly.
Again, this paragraph is untrue in many ways. True, the Trust’s initial poll showed huge support for the bridge, but it was later discredited as designed to have totally leading questions and not giving full details of the project to those asked. In no way is Lumley’s idea “free”, and as we now know the costs have been increasing wildly since day one.
This is a fascinating insight. The normal procedure is to say “no” before an idea can be argued, evidenced and presented succesfully enough for people to say “yes”. The Garden Bridge did the complete opposite to this – Boris Johnson said “yes” in private then worked with TfL to backwards engineer the whole process to enable and fund it. Clearly Lumley is used to people saying “yes” before any consideration.
Her suggestion that the “silent majority still love the bridge” is laughable and invites so, so many questions. If they are so silent, how can Lumley possibly know their thoughts? Why are they so silent and why do they refuse to write to any newspaper, contact any MP, write to the Mayor or fund the project? And, most intriguingly, how does Lumley think people who stay so resolutely silent and hidden can be asked what they think?
Lumley bemoans the fact that investigations are getting in the way. How difficult for her it must be, that diligent Assembly Members, hardworking MPs, sector experts, RIBA recognised procurement organisations and the hardworking investigative journalism of Will Hurst at The Architects’ Journal is slowing down her dreams. Bloody democracy and transparency!
But the next statement is the most shocking:
Lumley is saying this literally at a time when the queues for foodbanks are at a record high and people are struggling to afford bread. This really is a “Let them eat Garden Brioche” moment and is evidence of just how detached from reality Lumley is that she thinks people would rather donate money to her development than eat bread. Kaya Burgess, sneaking some negativity into The Times, suggested “Last time I checked, there were some 60 million people in the UK. I fear it’s this sort of maths that doomed the project in the first place.”
In further evidence that the Garden Bridge is a project of national concern, Deputy leader of Nottingham City Council Graham Chapman tweeted:
Joanna Lumley complains that subsidy for #Garden Bridge is 32p/person in UK. But why would Nottingham want to pay £102k for a London Bridge?
— graham chapman (@cllrgc) April 29, 2017
Lumley went on:
Again trying to present opposition to the Garden Bridge as “political”, Lumley then suggests that they have not received clear answers to their questions. The Garden Bridge Trust is, let’s not forget, an organisation that has deliberately mislead, shifted meanings, delayed responsibilities, avoided debate, hidden from the communities and given inexplicable answers throughout.
Finally she ends up with a momentary sensible thought:
Yes, Lumley, it IS the wrong time AND the wrong place.
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