Newsnight have been looking into the Garden Bridge Trust’s funding claims, and found they have been somewhat loose with the truth (there’s a surprise).
“Some call it an expensive indulgance in a capital that has too many”, Evan Davis stated during the introduction and suggested it was “a bridge too far”, before the article went on to reveal that £20m of donations have been pulled from the development in the last 12 months and that they are currently £62m short, and not the £30m they have been claiming. It also revealed the new total cost has gone up to at least £185m and their timeline has slipped by a year.
This development which represents all that is wrong with our broken politics and society has to be put out of its misery.
Hannah Barnes is the reporter who has been delving into the Garden Bridge Truths, and she parallels her Newsnight article with this online piece.
Thomas Heatherwick was on camera repeating the same old soundbites which are downright lies, ie “a free garden for Londoners” and the GBT only ever wheel him out when they are in serious desperate times. Depressingly he said that the opponents of the Garden Bridge have “agendas”, which is frankly pathetic when it is clear that the secretive and dodgy people behind the development are the ones with the agenda.
Newsnight has learned that several of the funders have pulled out over the last year leaving a massive funding shortfall of £62m (that is only if it comes in on budget, which is unlikely!) and means that the GBT have only raised £62m against the £60m public money with little confidence they can double their fundraising at a time donors are running scared.
Mervyn Davies, the head of the GBT, appeared on TV to lie, “this was a project started by Transport for London”. No, Joanna Lumley and Boris Johnson started it. Then he dropped a bombshell that the overall cost is actually now £185m, not £175m.
Davies claims that the “project has good momentum”, to which Davis points out that they have lost money over the last year and clearly was struggling to speak with any confidence. He also has problems with words, denying that donors are anonymous before stating they may give their names further down the line. Ie, the donors are currently anonymous.
Evan Davis has clearly been briefed well because he started openly laughing when Mervyn Davies mentioned the maddening TfL fifty year ‘loan’ and then sounded incredulous at the ideas the GBT have spent such sums without picking up a spade.
Mervyn Davies went on to discuss the endowment that has been given and his “detailed business case” which has been fully demolished by Dan Anderson, placemaking expert, in a report you can find here.
Davies ended by saying “I think it does sum up… about Britain” before mentioning that the project is now delayed until a 2019 completion.
It does indeed represent much about Britain:
Ecological damage when real environmental change is needed.
Total disrespect for community and citizens.
Arrogance of developers who ride roughshod over the people.
Damage to protected heritage.
The privatisation of public land.
The movement of public money into private hands.
Backdoors and dodgy deals for the pet-projects of the chumocracy while real needed regeneration is ignored.
The loading of risk onto the public purse.
These are all symbols of the neoloberal politics and cities that we have created, and they are not the icononic symbols we should be building monuments to.
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