Mayor under fire from all parties including the Conservatives at the London Assembly
Boris Johnson faced hostile questioning on the Garden Bridge from his own party yesterday (20 January) as he blamed architects’ ‘jealousy’ of Thomas Heatherwick for the continuing row over the £175million project.
Grilled by several members of the London Assembly at Mayor’s Question Time, including Tory member Andrew Boff, Johnson refused to give further details of a controversial 2013 fundraising trip he had made to San Francisco and claimed architects’ hostility to Heatherwick was fuelling negative press coverage.
‘The last figures I saw showed it carried the support of about 85 per cent of the city,’ Johnson said. ‘I can only think that the negativity surrounding this comes from a certain amount of professional jealousy from the architectural world…who are not sure about the professional qualifications of Thomas Heatherwick. There’s a certain amount of that going on in some of the coverage.
‘The rest of it is politically-driven twaddle…’
Boff - who at one point asked Johnson what category of critic he represented - said the Garden Bridge Trust was currently £30 million short of its fundraising target and predicted construction would begin before the full amount needed was raised.
‘What is clear is that the bridge will be commenced without the full funding having been identified. In the event of that extra £30 million not being raised…where will the funding come from?’
Johnson replied that no more money would be forthcoming from TfL.
‘So the potential is there for us to have a half-finished bridge?’ Boff replied.
‘Perhaps we can build a Garden Pier most of the way to Lambeth,’ Johnson said before adding that he did not think this would happen.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London later said: ’The Mayor has every confidence that the Garden Bridge will be completed and that it will be a spectacular new addition to London. Work on building the bridge is due to begin this year and it is widely supported by Londoners and businesses on both sides of the river.’
Garden Bridge planting visuals