The Greater London Authority is undertaking a detailed investigation into the controversial procurement processes by which designer Thomas Heatherwick and engineering firm Arup won their contracts for the Garden Bridge. It appears that several procedural improprieties occurred, including the destruction of vital documents outlining the evaluation process during the closed design competition. Heatherwick, who has built only one ornamental bridge in London, was party to insider information and was subsequently awarded higher marks than the other two highly skilled architects and experienced bridge builders.
Arup was awarded the engineering contract after a competition which saw them being offered a chance to revise their bid when none of the other entrants were offered the same opportunity. This is against the core principles of procurement and is deemed illegal: http://spendmatters.com/uk/garden-bridge-audit-report-an-illegal-procurement-process-basically/
The original resulting document for TfL’s internal audit* was modified to ensure that TfL’s errors were mollified. The original document was otherwise very critical and admitted that mistakes were made. And the mayor Boris Johnson has been accused of ‘malfeasance in public office’ after he failed to document his plans so that TfL board members were not given the opportunity to make a decision about the project, as it was presented to them as a fait accompli in July 2013.
Meanwhile, the leader of Lambeth Council has taken a strong stand against the misuse of public funds for what would be the most expensive footbridge in the world. Cllr Lib Peck took the brave decision to cease negotiations about the land on the South Bank required by the Garden Bridge Trust, stating that it does not offer good value for money when there are severe cuts to public spending in this ‘time of austerity’.
In response, the Garden Bridge Trust denounced Cllr Peck by bullying her in the Evening Standard, London’s tabloid paper owned by Evgeny Lebedev, a governor of the Garden Bridge. Ex-Heatherwick Studios PR employee Bee Emmott, now Executive Director of the Garden Bridge Trust, arrogantly declared that they have already spent £20 million of public money on the private bridge development. She went on to use flawed logic by arguing that they should continue with the project on the basis of this shocking revelation.
It is clear that the Garden Bridge Trust have no respect for the public when it comes to spending our money. They need to stop now before the rest of the £60 million public contribution is frittered away. And don’t forget that they are holding London to ransom with a public guarantee of an endowment worth £150 million if the ‘Trust’ fails in its maintenance duties – which is highly likely given their poor track record on spending.
In the meantime, there is still a lot you can do to help stop this wasteful vanity project. The 'Trust’ only has provisional planning permission granted by both councils; there are still several conditions that need to be met before full and final planning can be granted. The latest conditions that need to be discharged can be found here. Check out Lambeth Council’s database here for details of the conditions using the reference 14/02792/FUL. Please write to Lambeth Council’s planning department with your concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
And please keep spreading the word about our campaign here and our petition here. Thank you.
*TfL is audited by EY whose Audit Partner is Julie Carlyle – a Garden Bridge Trustee.