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Khan: 'I'll scrap Garden Bridge if I become London Mayor'


The official Labour Party candidate for next year’s London mayoral elections has said he would stop the controversial Thomas Heatherwick-designed Garden Bridge project if elected

Sadiq Khan admitted that while he loved the idea of the structure ‘in principle’, the reality of what was proposed was a waste of money.

‘What we were sold is a long way from the reality we now face,’ he told the Evening Standard. ‘It has become another of Boris Johnson’s white elephant projects – like the Cable Car which is used by few at the cost of millions of pounds.

‘I believe it no longer represents value for money. This was supposed to be an entirely privately funded project costing £60 million, but the overall cost has tripled, and £60 million is being paid for out of the public purse, with a possible maintenance cost of £3.5 million a year – for a bridge which will often be closed to the public for private events and won’t be open overnight.’

It no longer represents value for money

The Tooting MP, who was selected as Labour’s candidate for the mayoral race earlier this month, said he would direct the public funding earmarked for the Garden Bridge to the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street if his City Hall bid is successful.

Khan’s comments came as Labour-led Lambeth Council said it was putting negotiations over land required for the bridge’s development on hold because of the level of public-funding now required for the project.

In a letter to London Mayor Boris Johnson, council leader Lib Peck said the authority was ‘not willing to use more of our time and energy with continuous negotiations until a more appropriate funding model is brought forward’.

Johnson told the Evening Standard the moves were a ‘shameful exercise in political posturing’.

Garden Bridge Trust chairman Lord Mervyn Davies said the organisation was ‘staggered’ by Lambeth’s change in stance.

‘In the numerous meetings and in the continual dialogue over two years they have been hugely supportive and great partners,’ he said.

‘To suddenly do a U-turn is extremely troubling. We are so far down the road on fundraising and planning and have huge public support for an extraordinary project with real benefit for the people.’ 

Response from the Garden Bridge Trust

Bee Emmott, executive director of the Trust:
‘We are surprised at Lib Peck’s letter particularly given how closely we have worked with Peck and Lambeth Council for the last two years. Planning Permission was granted by Lambeth Council in late 2014. We have been very clear from the outset that the public funding is a way to stimulate private contributions, which will make up the greater amount of the funding and, as Lambeth knows, a significant amount of funding has already been spent during this preconstruction phase following Lambeth granting planning permission.

‘We will be seeking clarity from Lambeth about the letter given planning permission has been granted and much money has been spent.’

‘The Mayoral Election is in May 2016 by which time the bridge will be under construction and a substantial amount of public funding spent.’





Readers' comments (8)

  • So Lord Mervyn Davies thinks that there's 'huge public support' for it - forgive me - I hadn't noticed, perhaps there should be a Swiss-style national referendum to establish exactly how huge, with the costs of the referendum covered by the National Lottery, if this is such a wondrous project to enhance the setting of the Thames in the middle of our capital city and create a vital connection between north and south banks (except when closed for private junkets and during the hours of darkness) .

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  • Despite constant cheerleading from the Standard and Boris these jokers have failed to raise a penny in pledges from corporations or foundations over the last year and are still £50m short of their target, even after they have received £60m from the public purse. And they haven't secured any of the leases or permissions they require from the PLA, Lambeth, Coin St, ITV or IBM, apart from the initial planning permission, which has 46 conditions of which a mere 5 have been discharged in 9 months. And they have already spent £10m of public money (none of the purported private money) on getting to this forlorn point. How come? And come banker Davies dare to complain at Lambeth effectively pulling the plug? Where are all his city chums purportedly queueing up to fund this luvvies' folly? I look forward to the inquest

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  • Thank you, Mr Khan. Thank you, Ms Peck. Let's hope that today's statements mark the beginning of the end of this dreadful project.

    No thanks at all to Nick Clegg, whose sycophantic nonsense in the Standard was noteworthy only for its ignorance and inaccuracy and disconnectedness from the prevailing public mood. Caroline Pidgeon almost had me voting Lib Dem. Nick Clegg changed my mind.

    As for Bee Emmott's response, above, I can't help feeling that it reads like a ransom note. We have to see through this monstrosity because we are too far committed already? Are we meant to throw good money after bad? That you and your so-called 'charity' -- actually a collection of contractors -- have already squandered some £20 million of taxpayer's money on a project that is not needed and scarcely wanted is hardly a reason to spend a further £150 million.

    The Trust's patronising assertions that an unnecessary bridge in central London "doesn't preclude" the construction of other bridges in places where they ARE needed demonstrates a lack of understanding of the basic, BASIC concept of opportunity cost. Emmott's latest statement shows a lack of understanding of sunk costs. Can someone please buy Heatherwick, Emmott, Davies and Clegg a first-year economics text book? I'm tired of reading their absurdities, lies and excuses.

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  • Mr Khan, based on this single issue you have my vote. This frivolous, pointless concoction is an international embarrassment and a sad sign of how totally confused values and ambitions have become among some in London.

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  • When the whole farrago is over - bridge cancelled, official bullshit machines switched to 'reverse', money already wasted written off, existing views, trees and park reprieved - there'll be a wonderful piece of investigative journalism to be written about all this.

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  • Chris Roche

    Before we totally write off this narcissistic vanity project, we should perhaps pause to consider if there is anything of value which can be salvaged and which may inform future plans for London. In my view building bridges over the Thames is a practical and sensible proposition where necessary, however this particular location is problematic at best, and probably totally unnecessary. Moreover London is not short of green space but is critically short of housing - why then not have a competition for a habitable bridge in a part of London that desperately needs a connection, and would provide not only much needed housing, but also a prototype habitable bridge concept for the 21st Century which could be exported worldwide. I'm sure this would appeal to a new Mayor of London.

    Chris Roche Founder 11.04 Architects

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  • Just get rid of it as soon as possible and let everybody get on with using all that public money on something really necessary like truly affordable public housing with proper space standards! At least up to Prker Morris!

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  • Well done Lambeth Council and Sadiq Khan for standing up for Londoners against the powerful delusionists who are trying to foist this vandalism upon the South Bank. The Evening Standard, which consistently fails to remind us that its proprietor has a vested interest in the bridge, calls Lambeth Council’s action “petty politics”. If it advantages Londoners and dismays the chummery, who’ll turn up for a private jolly on the bridge once a year and leave the rest of us to suffer its consequences the rest of the time, give me more petty politics. Much more.

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