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TfL top brass to join Garden Bridge engineer

TfL’s director of strategy and policy Richard De Cani at oversight committee - 17 September
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New Garden Bridge row as senior official at centre of procurement controversy Richard De Cani plus deputy mayor Isabel Dedring join Arup

The senior official at Transport for London who selected Joanna Lumley’s team of Heatherwick Studio and Arup to design the Garden Bridge is taking up job at Arup, it has emerged.

Richard De Cani, TfL’s managing director for planning, has been in the spotlight since last September when he was grilled by London Assembly members over the organisation’s ‘unfair’ procurement process.

Arup confirmed that De Cani was taking up an unspecified position in May and also announced that London’s deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring – who accompanied Boris Johnson on his highly controversial Garden Bridge fundraising trip to see Apple in San Francisco– is joining the firm as its global transport leader.

De Cani also worked for Arup previously as a transport planner, it was revealed.

The revelations - and the recent intervention of RIBA president Jane Duncan - provoked furious exchanges with mayor Boris Johnson at a transport meeting of the London Assembly this morning (10 February).

Labour member Tom Copley asked the mayor of De Cani: ‘Why was he allowed to be the sole decision maker in the procurement of the Garden Bridge design contract?

Johnson responded angrily by saying Copley was ‘casting doubt’ on the integrity of TfL officers, calling this ‘very wrong’.

‘You should reflect on this line of questioning,’ the mayor added.

When Copley raised Jane Duncan’s comments, Johnson also said he was ‘continually surprised by the hostility of architects’.

He added: ‘I’m told that this is because Thomas Heatherwick is thought of as a designer, not an architect.’

TfL commissioner Mike Brown also robustly defended De Cani.

He said: ‘Richard De Cani worked for Arup 17 and-a-half years ago as a transport planner. He was part of a panel who scored the [Garden Bridge] bids and it was [former TfL managing director of planning] Michele Dix who had ultimate sign off.

‘The line of accountability is quite clear. I’ve come across many people in my career and very few people who have the level of integrity that Richard De Cani has.’

Copley said that Johnson would be ‘in front of a Grand Jury’ if he was mayor of New York but the mayor replied: ‘You should be ashamed of yourself.’

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