Around 400 people attended a packed St John's Church in Waterloo to hear a wide cross-section of society send a clear message to the new mayor of London Sadiq Khan: refrain from signing off Boris Johnson's public guarantee for the Garden Bridge and hold an open and independent investigation into its procurement process. There were also calls to examine the rationale behind why the project even exists, given that it is not a vital piece of transport infrastructure but it is using over £60m of transport funding.
Michael Ball from TCOS challenged the chair Kate Hoey MP, to write to the Home Secretary to investigate the considerable risk of dangerous congestion, if the Garden Bridge is built. There has been no proper assessment of overcrowding on the Queen's Walk and the surrounding areas, only on the Garden Bridge itself. He said that this is a serious oversight and the threat of fatalities is very real given the bottlenecks that already exist along the South Bank. He added that this has all the indications of another Hillsborough disaster in the making.
Michael also stated that Sadiq Khan has a new mandate. The Garden Bridge Trust haven't got new funders and funders won't back the private development if Sadiq steps in. He has been saying in private that he’ll scrap the bridge but he needs to go public with this.
Meanwhile local ward councillors Jennie Mosley and Kevin Craig said that TfL had made threats against Lambeth Council to pressurise them to support the Garden Bridge. They added that Lambeth Council were actively doing things to enable it to happen despite "nobody" voting for it or asking for it. Together with Kate Hoey, they denounced Lambeth council for railroading this project despite huge public opposition from across the borough. Lambeth council have consistently blocked any meaningful discussions about the Garden Bridge opting to go with bad advice from Lambeth planning officers who have been paid thousands of pounds to fast-track this private development on public land.
The meeting affirmed that Garden Bridge is not just a local issue; it affects all of us in some way especially if Sadiq signs off Boris Johnson's public guarantee to underwrite the ongoing maintenance cost of £3.5m per year. Cross-party opposition groups who attended the event last night included members from the Greater London Authority, the Labour Party, Greens, Liberal Democrats, Tories, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, London Cycling Campaign, horticultural experts, bridge designers, engineers and eminent architects including Ian Ritchie, who stated that the Garden Bridge designs have to be amended as it would not sit evenly across the river because of structural issues. He said that "the image presented by the Garden Bridge is deceptive - rendering your deceit."
In the meantime, Lambeth council is getting a reputation for being judicially reviewed e.g. Cressingham Gardens, libraries closures etc. and now they face a new legal challenge from us. We still need your support in funding our judicial review to stop the Garden Bridge; please donate here, thank you: www.everyclick.com/tcos Alternatively text the code TCOS44 along with a donation amount to 70070 (please gift aid if you can).
Quotes from the evening:
“It might be feasible to combine toaster with hairdryer, but it doesn't mean it's a good idea" – lead engineer Alistair Lenczner Millau Viaduct & Wembley Stadium
“So the garden bridge is no good 4 cyclists or walkers, gardeners or trees, flowers or bees, architecture & design: not even 4 crossing the river” Cllr Rachel Heywood ostracised by Lambeth leader Lib Peck's cabinet for speaking out against library closures.
"These [trees planned on the bridge] are lollipop trees. Yet the 30 trees they want to fell are mature” Richard Reynolds - The Guerrilla Gardener
“If this bridge gets built then you will see underside of another bridge, rather than St Paul's” Phil Marson, Inner London Ramblers (formerly Ramblers Association)
Pictured from the rear left: Tom Copley Labour AM, Harry Fairhead Taxpayers' Alliance, Dan Anderson Fourth Street, Caroline Russell Green AM, Phil Marson Inner London Ramblers, Richard Reynolds The Guerrilla Gardener, Terry Patterson London Cycling Campaign, Kate Hoey MP, Architect Ian Rictchie; front left Michael Ball TCOS, Alistair Lenczner Expedition Engineering; not pictured Cllr Jennie Mosley & Cllr Kevin Craig - Bishop's Ward, Cllr Adele Morris Lib Dem Southwark