Bridge or swim?

Last Saturday, one of the weirder pieces of news hit me. It was all about a garden bridge. Now, I have had my garden salads in my time, as well as crossing some ridges to get me to the garden salad in the first place. Yet what is this about the Garden Bridge? The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/29/joanna-lumley-attacks-sadiq-khans-scrapping-of-thames-garden-bridge), is giving us the goods with “Actor who devised proposal describes London mayor’s decision to pull financial backing for project as devastating”, which is a genuine feeling I reckon. What some might not get is “In a study of the project commissioned by city hall, the Labour MP Margaret Hodge found the bridge was likely to cost more than £200m, and that £37.4m of public funds had already been spent without any building work taking place” as well as “Osborne committed £60m of public funding to the scheme when he was in office. The Department for Transport has already given £30m and Transport for London contributed £30m, £20m of which structured as a loan”. I personally think that bridges are cool, so I would be on board of this. In my view the two issues here are:

  • Where did the £37.4m of public funds go towards?
  • Sadiq Khans carefully spoken words regarding the HS2.

The second part needs some explaining. Yes, we know that Sadiq Khan has had a few issues on the Highs Speed line in the past as well a now, yet finding ways to cut costs in a non maximum effect, whilst that invoice will surpass £56 billion is a stretch on both sides of the equation. Oh, and before we all get comfortable, I feel certain that after the elections certain issues will dissolve and the HS2 will quietly be implemented. All that to save half an hour to Manchester. In that regard, if the Garden Bridge is actually scrapped altogether, the issues on spending and certain issues that MP Margaret Hodge stated will need open investigations in the open light for everyone to scrutinise.

Now, we all agree that costs will be seen in one light or another and when the costs are set at 10%-25% differences, there are a few details to look at. Yet, as I see it, the difference between £60-£200 is far too wide to be something simple. I wonder who else this impacts, and in addition I would equally like to know what makes for the difference. I like in part the response that our little New Avenging ‘Purdey’ Lumley is giving us. Her link to 38p to al the people in the UK comes to nearly £200M and as such the initial £60 might seem nice, but that is less than half way. Still, should the bridge not be placed? In a need for more options to cross the bridge, more reasons to not take the car and rely on a healthy walk is good for London and it is even better for tourism. What is equally striking is that former coffer key holder George Osborne was willing to go where the UK labour party is not. Even as from my early point of view, a bridge could be regarded as a drain on empty coffers, so not spending too unwisely is a great idea. In this I should be on the Labour side for a change. Even as Sadiq Khan is the person linked to a set of experts trying to save 60 street markets, in that I wonder how much these experts cost and why street markets are under scrutiny in the first place. In all this it is the bridge that suffers the consequence.

Yet in all honesty it is the response from Khan that requires consideration as well. “It is concerning that a huge amount of effort and expenditure has been expended on other aspects of the project when there is a real possibility that agreement will not be reached before the expiry of planning permission, or at all.

That reads like some people have been selling the ham without slicing the pig and now there is an issue. As I see it, there is an issue on more than one level, which directly gets us to the point of where the wasted £37.4 million went. Which is a valid pressing argument in public spending. And anyone who comes with the response that it is a ‘complex question’ should be stricken from any public spending consideration for life. You see, when I initially saw the article, my mind went straight back to he Guy Ritchie movie RocknRolla. As I personally see it one of Guy’s weirder views on London, yet entertaining and with an awesome cast. I am not implying that this is all linked to corruption, I am merely asking if the bridge process had not been set up to fail from the beginning and the funds offerings were not just there to appease a political climate at the initial time from going into the wrong direction. Is that such a weird question?

The elderly population might have been sussed to sleep as Jimi Mistry had his time on Coronation Street, yet the real world is neither that nor is it East-enders. London is a weird amalgamate of Citizens, Residents, Immigrants and Tourists. These CRITters make up for the life force of London and Bridges are part of this, in addition, with each bridge new areas of London are raised in value, awareness and investment opportunity. The question becomes, who benefits from those parts, perhaps the wrong players? All questions that are not asked, not shown and not considered. Merely the £60M question, what more does it need to build a bridge?

I wonder what happens when Joanna Lumley starts comparing this openly next to the billions the HS2 is swallowing, how long until a few construction players ‘suddenly’ find a way to get both made a reality? At that point, should we get cautious and ask a whole lot of questions, or should we quietly celebrate the victory of a Garden Bridge becoming reality?

I am not sure on what path would be the better one to take, yet in all this I feel that a first nail has been driven into the coffin showing that Sadiq Khan has a few agenda points that should raise questions and awareness on what he actually wants for London, actually I wonder what the view of Ken ‘red’ Livingstone is on that bridge. No matter if he is if favour or against. His point of view and especially ‘the why’ seems to be a question that I want to see from other former Mayors. Perhaps it is I who saw the issues wrong and he would side with Sadiq Khan on very valid reasons. I just like to keep an open mind, yet in all this, if I had to consider either the bridge at the max of £200M or a dubious HS2 at £58B, I know what I would choose and it would not be that expensive choo-choo solution.

 

 

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