Garden Bridge becomes battlefield

Is this the end for the Lumley/Boris fiasco?

Outrage over the proposed Garden Bridge scheme may have reached a tipping point.

The bridge, which was the idea of Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley, and championed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, has hit an array of legal and financial problems, as concerted efforts to prevent its construction have hit home.

Firstly, the Greater London Assembly (GLA) has called on the mayor to order a full, independent inquiry into the procurement process behind the bridge, and to withdraw Transport for London funds from the project.

TfL has committed £30m to the bridge, however the GLA said in a statement that “with no cycling provision or guaranteed public right of way and given the proximity to other bridges, the project serves no transport function, and it is therefore inappropriate that £30 million of Transport for London money has been committed to it.”

In addition, Lambeth Council has created new obstacles that will delay the bridge. The council has agreed to designate the area where the bridge will reach the south bank, an “asset of community value”, which will block the Garden Bridge Trust from leasing the site for at least six months.

And, following the threat of a judicial review against the council by local resident Michael Ball, the council has agreed to provide a guarantee to cover the cost of the ongoing maintenance of the bridge, estimated at £3.5m annually or £90m over the lifetime of the Bridge.

Aside from Lumley and Johnson, George Osborne is also a supporter of the scheme and has pledged £30m of funding which will come from the department for transport.

Other high profile supporters include the former architecture advisor to the mayor, Richard Rogers, and also the personal friend of Boris Johnson and Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands.

Is there a single backer who doesn’t have ties to the project?

Meanwhile, a long list of opponents are lining up to give the bridge a kicking. These include the RSPB, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, St Paul’s Cathedral, mayoral hopeful Christian Wolmar, and artist Grayson Perry.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I've commented on this before since there were no cycling facilities and so didn't justify public money from TFL. If it has a revamp to include these, and a guaranteed public right of way (ie no private corporate sponsors blocking public usage for commercial gain with events) then I still really think this is an opportunity for London to be ground breaking again. With a separate cycle track this could be simply amazing, and another step forward to making transport within London centred upon cycling and walking. A pollution free city environment? Not a pipe dream if we want it to be, but it takes vision. This bridge was dreamt up by someone with vision, and I think we should support it. For the record, I have no involvement with any of the bridge's supporters/backers etc, I am simply a London cyclist with an opinion.

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