THE LONDON ASSEMBLY CALL ON SADIQ TO END THE GARDEN BRIDGE

8 Feb 2017

The London Assembly today debated a motion calling for Saidiq Khan to refuse to sign the TfL funded guarantee which would see the public purse liable for up to £3.5m each year for Garden Bridge upkeep.

However, there wasn’t much ‘debate’ as every Assembly Member, of each party, was in agreement that the whole development was deeply flawed, problematic and not what London needs. Instead of a debate they queued up one after another to criticise the project, the Garden Bridge Trust and plea for Sadiq to do the right thing by democracy, Londoners and TfL.

 

You can view the proceedings HERE. It starts at 2 Hours 23 Minutes in and is well worth watching, but to help here is a summary:

 

First up was Labour AM Tom Copley, who proposed the motion. He said the “project has been dogged by scandal ever since the beginning” and was borne of “cocktail party cronyism” and the sense “a group of people got together, the establishment, and decided it was a nice idea”. After stating that he couldn’t see the Garden Bridge would be going ahead, he said it was important “not to throw more money after bad”, adding that if Sadiq Khan signs the guarantee then there is always the likelihood it could be drawn on.

He finished up: “Mr. Mayor – please don’t sign the Garden Bridge guarantee, don’t associate yourself with this white elephant, don’t build the bridge.”

Seconding the motion was fellow Labour AM Florence Eshalomi who joined the Assembly nearly a year ago, and pointed out that her first act as an AM was to call on the mayor to not sign the Garden Bridge guarantee. She said that the development was “unravelling before a shovel has been put in the ground” and called on fellow Members to support the motion.

 

First to do so was Caroline Pidgeon who has diligently investigated the Garden Bridge since 2013, including writing for this site. Pidgeon welcomed the motion and said that “the argument that The Garden Bridge Trust will meet its annual funding is far fetched”. She questioned Sadiq Khan’s due diligence, pointing out that in the previous Mayor’s Question Time he indicated he’d be happy to sign the guarantee before hearing the results of the Margaret Hodge Review.

She finished stating that “the mayor must not tie the hands of future mayors and Londoners to pay for this”.

 

Speaking on behalf of the Green Party, Caroline Russell threw her support behind the motion. She said that “there are far better bridge proposals that Sadiq could be supporting, far removed from the Garden Bridge” and spoke at length about the proposed Diamond Jubilee Footbridge which needs a fraction of the funds but would offer genuine benefit.

 

For UKIP, David Kurton said that the Garden Bridge would “destroy some of the finest urban views in the world” and called for “a public inquiry into this huge and profligate waste of money”, adding “it’s a waste of money, it’s a white elephant, it should never have been proposed & we shouldn’t throw good money after bad”.

 

Conservative Keith Prince congratulated Florence Eshalomi on her statement and said “The last thing we need in this location is another bridge, we need bridges in East London”. He went on to say that the whole thing should be stopped once and for all, “let’s put a line under it and look at areas where we need bridges, not a folly”.

Fellow conservative Andrew Boff, long-time opponent of the development, said “I like innovation, but I can’t understand why anyone supported the Garden Bridge. The Garden Bridge is a wonderful project! Unless you want to use it, live near it or pay for it!”

 

Prior to the vote taking place, Tom Copley made one final statement suggesting that Boris Johnson and George Osborne should be held to account for their roles in the projects’ murky history. Then they all voted on the motion:

 

It was near-unanimously passed 16 to 1. Cross party opposition to the project and the real risk for future public expenditure.

It should be pointed out that the 1 who voted “no” was also deeply opposed to the Garden Bridge. Conservative Member Gareth Bacon explained his dislike of the whole project, but had decided that “Sadiq has flip-flopped all over the place on the Garden Bridge over the last two years” and to pass the motion would offer the Mayor a too-easy get-out. He added “If Sadiq Khan wants to kill the Garden Bridge he should have the courage of his conviction and not hide behind this motion”.

 

So Sadiq, it’s over to you. Will you listen to the public, the community, the experts, the democratic representatives and your colleagues from all political persuasions? Or will you continue to refuse to publicly discuss the project, not enter dialogue with opponents and remain deluded and arrogantly fixed in sunk-cost fallacy?

 

Please drop him an email asking him NOT TO SIGN THE GARDEN BRIDGE GUARANTEE and asking him to meet with TCOS, opponents and experts of the development.

mayor@london.gov.uk

 

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