This week The London Assembly has voted against the London Mayor Boris Johnson’s current plans for a Garden Bridge spanning the Thames river.
A motion, which passed at a plenary session of the London Assembly, calls on the Mayor to carry out a full audit of the project’s funding, and to remove Transport for London (TfL) funding for a project which “serves no transport function”.
The motion adds to the rising criticism of the project from a range of groups, including the RSPB and the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, who proposed the motion, said:“There are many locations along the Thames, from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf, where there is a far more pressing need for a bridge serving pedestrians and cyclists than the site of the Garden Bridge.
“If the objective of the Garden Bridge is to improve London’s public spaces then it is folly to cut down more than 30 mature trees and reduce much valued open space on the south bank. £60 million of public funding could be far better spent improving numerous parks and open spaces across the capital.
“At the same time it is vital that an independent audit is carried out looking into the whole procurement process as there are serious questions about how the design contract was awarded.”
Valerie Shawcross CBE AM, who seconded the motion, said:“We’ve seen overwhelming opposition to the Garden Bridge from all parts of our community and yet millions of pounds of TfL and GLA funds are being eaten away by this unwanted project.
“The Garden Bridge was sold to Londoners as a transport project and yet it fails to guarantee public right of way or step free access and there’s no provision for cycling. Local residents will undoubtedly feel the impact of increasing numbers of tourists in what is already a congested area and it’s likely we’ll see the fine open vista of the river and St Pauls cluttered and obscured.
“It is wholly inappropriate to spend £30 million of TfL funds on what is essentially a tourist attraction which offers little in terms of actual infrastructure.
“This is money which should be allocated to genuine transport projects, including building river crossings where they are actually needed, such as in East London. A full audit of the Garden Bridge procurement process is entirely right if the public are to have any faith in this project.”
The Assembly’s motion was agreed with 11 votes for and 3 against carrying out a full audit and withdrawal of TfL funding for the unpopular project.
The webcast of the plenary session is available to be viewed here.
The full motion text reads:
“This Assembly notes with concern the many objections to the proposed Garden Bridge from a wide variety of individuals and organisations, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Objections have been raised over: the proximity to other crossings, the blocking of historic views of the Thames, the procurement process, the lack of cycling provision, the lack of a guaranteed right of way or step free access, the loss of over 30 mature trees on the South Bank, and the GLA underwriting ongoing maintenance costs running into millions.
“This Assembly believes that, with no cycling provision or guaranteed public right of way and given the proximity to other bridges, the project serves no transport function, and it is therefore inappropriate that £30 million of Transport for London money has been committed to it.
“This Assembly further believes that the public money earmarked for the project would be much better allocated to pedestrian/cycle river crossings where there is a genuine transport need, such as the proposed Brunel Bridge at Rotherhithe/Canary Wharf, or spent creating and improving green public spaces in other parts of the city.
“This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor to agree to a full, independent audit of the procurement process, and to withdraw TfL funds from the project.”