10 Days Remaining

Tuesday 15th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

Ludicrous private Thames crossing finally scrapped by wishy-washy Khan

BORIS JOHNSON and Joanna Lumley should be forced to pay the taxpayer back the £60 million wasted on London’s abandoned garden bridge project, according to cultural critic Jonathan Meades.

The Garden Bridge Trust announced yesterday that it was giving up on the plan for a vegetated Thames crossing, a vanity scheme championed by Mr Johnson as mayor of London and actor Ms Lumley.

After initially backing the plans, Mr Johnson’s Labour successor Sadiq Khan said he would not bankroll the bridge’s £3 million running costs.

Mr Meades, well known for his BBC documentaries on architecture, told the Star he was delighted that Mr Khan had put paid to the plans.

“A vast amount of money spent on this should be paid back by Lumley and Johnson — and perhaps [bridge designer Thomas] Heatherwick,” he said. “The procurement process was absolutely corrupt and the necessity for such a bridge was zero.”

In a letter to Mr Khan announcing the winding-up of the project, Garden Bridge Trust chairman Lord Davies of Abersoch said the bridge “no longer has that political support upon which it has always depended.”

Mr Khan had previously repeatedly stated that “the taxpayer will be better off if the bridge is built” in light of the “previous expenditure.”

But following a damning report commissioned by the mayor from MP Margaret Hodge, he announced he would not underwrite the bridge’s running costs.

Yesterday he said: “Londoners will, like me, be very angry that London taxpayers have now lost tens of millions of pounds committed by the previous mayor on a project that has amounted to nothing.”

Ridiculing the trust’s description of the bridge as a “landmark,” Mr Meades said: “One doesn’t need landmarks, one needs hospitals and social housing. It’s all icing but no cake.

“Someone should be brought to court to recover that money — perhaps in a class action by London ratepayers.

“One would obviously like Johnson to commit suicide in his cell, rather like Goering, who he increasingly resembles.”

Mr Johnson said the trustees “took seriously” Mr Khan’s support and that Transport for London had “spent £10m in the last year on the strength of those assurances.”

He claimed: “The garden bridge was a beautiful project and could have been easily financed.

“The only crumb of comfort is that good plans have now been developed and can be readily revived.”