Garden Bridge business plan is complete nonsense
Yesterday the Garden Bridge Trust's business plans were revealed by City Hall In summary the document reveals:
They still don’t have the money to build the thing, let alone start fundraising for the running costs
This is a 5 year plan for a 125 year bridge. The first 5 years of this bridge would be very different from the following decades: interest will wane, as will sponsorship, lettings and donations; but costs will rise as the big cyclical maintenance costs come round, renewing the lifts or the footpaths or thr structure etc.
58% of costs are on staff, only 4% of costs on horticulture! This is truly shocking
They are building in Oyster card payment type infrastructure for contactless donations – which will be easily convertible into mandatory ‘donations’ when they start running short of income
Their income guestimates are based on completely inappropriate comparisons, such as the Historic Royal Palaces!
Their commercial event hire and ‘dinner opportunities’ can’t be delivered and over-priced
In terms of the bigger picture:
This is becoming a steadily more unpopular project: 61% of Londoners are against it in the biggest poll so far, which has been running in the Evening Standard for the last month, with over 4,000 participants
There are still many impediments to the project, and Sadiq would be acting precipitately to agree to underwrite the £3.1m running costs (the 'guarantee') at this stage. Impediments include:
they don't have approval from Port of London Authority PLA or MMO (Marine Management Organisation);
they still don't have an implementable planning permission, with outstanding conditions and a s106 agreement to negotiate;
they still don't have an interest in the land, currently negotiating that - and a local resident is judicially reviewing that: today a pre-action is going from her solicitors
they still don't have all the money to build - we estimate they are still £30m short.
Yet more revelations have come out during the election (in new FOIs) about the procurement which destroy Boris' defence: he responded to the GLA scrutiny by saying that if the procurement was not done properly in Feb 2013, and whatever the shortcomings, he didn't care who won the competition, he just wanted the best project to win. The new FOIs show that from Sept - Dec 2012 he and officers were working flat out to try and get the Heatherwick project going - and then they held the 'competition' which he won. It is plain corruption. Sadiq must investigate - or he will become part of the cover up.
Clearly he cannot sign the guarantee while he investigates - but if he does, we will judicially review him.
If the Mayor guarantees the running costs of the garden bridge, much of the sponsorship and donations will fall away: the very existence of a guarantee ensures that it will be called upon. That means up to £3m a year from TfL, or around £150m over the next 50 years. We can't afford this on a tourist attraction