We would like to say a big thank you to all of those who came to the public meeting on Monday 18th May. Hundreds of people packed St John’s Church in Waterloo to discuss the garden bridge - and what they aren’t telling you.
Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, spoke passionately against the privitization of public spaces - “if you can’t picnic then it’s not a public garden…claims for any environmental benefits for it just do not stack up. You could take that money and use it to create pockets of good green space scattered around the city; the public benefits would be so much more immense for the spending of that money.”
Mayoral candidate and transport expert Christian Wolmar, declared that if he was elected mayor then he would scrap the bridge. He said that the business case read as if “it was written by someone who was told to come to a conclusion.”
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, has long been outspoken about Boris Johnson’s unethical approach to this pet project of Joanna Lumley, citing the actress as a long time associate of Heatherwick Studios. Caroline reminded us of the mayor's crude accusation of anyone disliking the bridge as having a “Taliban-style hatred of beauty”.
There were revelations from top bridge architects and designers Alistair Lenczner and Cezary Bednarski, about the highly questionable procurement processes for the project. Both are in the TfL framework of chosen experts for large public infrastructure projects but neither was consulted about this proposal which is to absorb £30m of transport funds. But outsider Thomas Heatherwick is the chosen one, with only one small ornamental bridge in his portfolio - quite mind-boggling considering he was pitted against award-winning bridge designer Marks Barfield in a ‘closed competition’.
Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross, confirmed that the bridge is a project that is simply not feted by other Assembly members or even by TfL, but that it is simply the whim of a mayor who leads a “top down government”. This is his folly “that won’t benefit anybody other than those sitting at the dinner party where this was dreamed up.”
Former Chairman of the Twentieth Century Society Gavin Stamp, highlighted the wonderful vistas that would be spoilt and that “the river is ours!” and not to be privatised. The President of the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association Hugh Johnson, compared visiting the Chelsea Flower Show with what it might be like on the garden bridge i.e. “squished” whilst trying to look at plants. Richard Reynolds, the Guerrilla Gardener warned that “we must not be seduced by greenery and urban parsley” and “it will do nothing for the birds” whilst Ann Renrick from the London Cycling Campaign, condemned it for being a waste of transport money as the powers that be, have ignored the fact that safer cycling needs to be improved before spending valuable resources on a pointless vanity project.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance made a strong case for public scrutiny of the bridge, when Chief Executive Jonathan Isaby blasted the project for having no robust business case for the annual maintenance costs should the project fail: “the case has simply not been made for a penny of taxpayers’ money to be spent on this grotesque white elephant.”
Local resident Gillian Melling emphasised the dreadful impact it would have not only for the local community but for the city as a whole “It’s the last bit of green open space along the Queen’s Walk; that river is for ALL Londoners.”
Please continue to support our campaign by donating towards the upcoming judicial review in June. Simply text the code TCOS44 along with your donation amount to 70070 or click here: www.everyclick.com/tcos. Please gift aid if you are able to, thank you.
(Pictures: Hannah Quigley)