It’s not all about the money, the Garden Bridge has countless serious issues with it from environmental damage, privatisation of the city, destruction of a public park, damage to the local community, purposelessness and so on. But it’s understandable that money is a huge talking point during times of ‘austerity’ and when everyone at home is counting their pounds.
Increasingly it’s a huge issue for the Garden Bridge Trust too – because they have so little but need so much. But worry not, the Evening Standard are doing their feeble best to get some for them.
The Evening Standard has been devoting less and less space to the Garden Bridge. What has always been considered the unofficial media partner of the Garden Bridge Trust (ie, the only one who prints their press releases uncritically and gives no attempt at journalism due to the desperate attempts of their oligarch owner to climb the slippery ladder into the Establishment) appears to have been slowly dropping the bridge from its pages. It’s expected that they have close connections to the team behind the development and perhaps are aware it’s a losing battle, so don’t want to become more of a laughing stock than they are.
But yesterday they sneaked in one tiny, pathetic plea for it. Small in content but huge as a warning for the way the bridge will go if nobody (Sadiq?) presses the stop button. In their daily comment titled “London’s wish list for the Autumn Statement” they included:
This is a development that was initially to cost the public purse absolutely nothing, which has seen regularly increasing costs and increasing burden upon the public purse. Politicians, experts, journalists, architects and opponents have been warning Sadiq and the Department for Transport that if allowed to continue the Garden Bridge would be a money pit. In fact the recent National Audit Office report warned that:
So it’s slightly scary when the Evening Standard, who seem to have close ties to the Garden Bridge Trust, subtly say to the Chancellor:
It shows desperation. But perhaps it also suggests that the Garden Bridge Trust have been so desperate they have actually asked Philip Hammond – after all, Trustee Roland Rudd works at Finsbury and assists in corporate crisis management and happens to have a sister who is the current Home Secretary.
The scary thing is that if they are scrambling around looking for more public money already, then the implications for if Sadiq allows it to be built are huge. The Garden Bridge Trust are between £40m and £75m pounds short of their £185m target for a project which is likely to go well over budget. Their Business Plan demands a £15m investment fund on top of that and they need to be able to raise over £3m a year for maintenance costs. These are all near impossible asks, and it is the public who will bail them out at each stage.
However, all reports coming from the corridors of Whitehall and Sadiq’s offices suggest all are totally against the Garden Bridge, what it stands for and the damage it could inflict – so any behind-the-scenes conversations that may have had surely fell on deaf ears. Hence the desperate plea in the Standard. But Sadiq can show his opposition by not signing up Transport for London to underwrite the huge annual maintenance bill which will make the public liable for £150m over the next fifty years.
So please email Sadiq to reming him about the huge damage he has the power to stop by refusing to sign the maintenance agreement.
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