Chris Medland's comments
Totally appreciate the detail, precision of the planning and design/construction efforts here along with the cost effectiveness etc. - each elevation/view is crafted and refined and this has clearly taken a lot of consideration - however, maybe I'm more of a traditionalist than I realised as I cant help but think I would prefer to live in one of the Victorian terraces down the road.
There are examples of architect initiated infrastructure projects out there. Some are just not controversial enough to be publicised.
David's point reinforces one I have made previously. The delivery of infrastructure should be based on the results it will provide as described by the cost:benefit ratio proven by verifiable modelling. This has been carried out by TfL and others on several proposals, such as the Diamond Jubilee Bridge/Cremorne Bridge, but (historically at least) it is not they who prioritise funding - it is the Mayor. In Mayor Johnson's case he essentially raided TfL's coffers to fund a pet project which was not in any transport plan. Other bridges were in the relevant plans and would have been completed with that funding but due to a politicians whim rather than an engineers calculation the funding has been squandered and the transport issues remain. The pet projects should be set aside and real beneficial infrastructure built. My point being that I believe it is time for a more scientific approach to delivering infrastructure, time to put politics aside, and make the vast amounts of money being spent work harder for us all, equitably. If tis means that the Mayor of London is no longer head of TfL then so be it.
Oh for a pedestrian bridge that already has planning consent, is in all the Local Authority Plans, has a strong business and transport case, is supported by locals and businesses alike, has commenced on site, and has 1/3rd of the required funding...and could be completed with 2 years... oh wait - there is one
The two key facts that have always put me off the project are simple and mathematically provable:
1 - The transport benefit of the proposal was minimal and the amount of dedicated transport funding granted was grossly disproportionate to this very small benefit.
2 - The proposal was hugely environmentally damaging and not 'green' or sustainable in any way by any recognised measure.
Many millions of trees could have been planted and other pedestrian bridges completed for less than has been wasted here.
if the GLA had gone in all guns blazing he would have frozen up and they would have looked overly combative. It looks like their strategy was to make him at ease - give him enough rope. Its a long game and in my view it worked as they have essentially exposed his weakness over the reasons for serious decision making around the funding and had him admit both his responsibility for it and that he was trying to get it over the line. Its the detail of how he tried that is important to any further investigations.
Call me sceptical but to hand these over now, delayed just enough to avoid any questions arising from them being put to the former mayor, is just what many predicted. I expect their accounts will now be published also.
Given the limited time, I thought the questions from the 3 GLA members were bang. Firstly Sian Berry highlighted the fact that he used transport funds on a project that wasn't in any transport plan and had minimal transport benefit, then Tom Copley highlighted how he facilitated minimal oversight of the spending of that money through Mayoral Directions and Caroline Pigeon essentially got him to admit that towards the end he was rushing it through as he wanted it to happen and wished he had more time. All the while, politely, Len Duvall stilted his bluster and meandering and added gravitas. There are now some serious issues exposed here to do with the additional £7m applied for in January '16 and granted - I doubt that this is over yet.
Adding a few of Will Hirst’s investigation findings together: Under the funding agreement the GBT had to prove that certain milestones had been met before applying to draw down funds. On signing the construction contract they applied for the release of £7,000,000 by means of their letter of 6th January 2016 to TfL. The funding was given to them despite civil servants concerns as noted in the NAO report. There are milestones that must be met that relate to the maintenance and funding of maintenance and to the securing of all necessary consents and planning conditions etc. How can the information that was required to enable this funding application have been available, complete or accurate if the Mayor had yet to agree to guarantee the bridge’s operation and maintenance costs as this was a requirement of the planning consent?