29 April 2017

Gorgeous and free?

Patsy has been at the gin.  The Times reports:
Joanna Lumley has hit back at critics of the garden bridge after the mayor of London withdrew his support for the project yesterday.
The actress, who played Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous, said she feared that Britain was in danger of becoming “a nation that pulls the shutters down” and said the tree-covered walkway across the Thames, which was her idea, had fallen victim to party politics.
“It was so well received when it was first suggested that all this has come as a shock,” she said. “I had this slightly hippie dream of putting something gorgeous and free in the middle of London to bring beauty and peace to tired commuters, so for those of us who have loved this idea for some time the news is absolutely shattering, devastating.
The Guardian (aka Miseryguts) has a different story:
Launched as a privately sponsored gift to the city, Joanna Lumley’s “tiara for the Thames” had soon gobbled up £60m of public cash and the promise of an extra £3.5m a year for evermore. It was quickly revealed to be more a corporate events space than public crossing, a planted branding opportunity just 200 metres from an existing bridge, where groups would have to register and visitors would be tracked via their mobile phones. It was relentlessly exposed to be the product of the “chumocracy”, flouting all the usual rules of procurement. The miracle is that it ever got so far, and that so much public money has already been flushed into the Thames.
The blame lies firmly with former mayor Boris Johnson, the one actor in this sorry saga who refused to comply with Margaret Hodge’s recent inquiry into the project. Her investigation found multiple failings from the start, from the Garden Bridge Trust’s shaky business case (which put a lot of faith in the lucrative potential of selling T-shirts and pens), to a tendering process that was “not open, fair or competitive”, to confusion as to what the project was even for, concluding that the bridge should be scrapped before it burned through any more cash. And it all comes back to Boris.
I guess the tired London commuters will have to seek elsewhere for their beauty and peace.  Not that anyone outside the M25 gives a damn ...


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