Tuesday 19 May 2015

The Garden Bridge - The mother of all vanity projects

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Blackfriars Rail Bridge - A proper bridge

There are a few things you probably didn't know about me. I guess two of these things are that I love gardens and I love bridges. I love gardens so much, I even made a pop video about my one (and here's a shameless plug for my bands gig at the Midland Hotel in Hendon on Saturday, Free Entry) when I was learning how to use video editing software, using an out take track that I'd co written. As for bridges, being a keen fan of architecture I find bridges fascinating. London has some of my favourite, I particularly like Blackfriars Rail Bridge. There is not a bridge in the world with a finer view, it is green with solar panels to power it and it is functional. I also rather like Tower Bridge. It is quirky, iconinc and does a very useful job. It is a symbol of London. I always get a thrill walking over it and love any film with a car chase where they jump the opening bridge.
If you walk down the South Bank of an evening, many of the Bridges are illuminated and look terrific. I particularly like the view of Southwark Bridge from the Anchor Pub in Park Street, with St Pauls as its backdrop, I'd urge any of you to stop for a pint to appreciate it!
So you may think I'd love Boris's latest bonkers idea, "The Garden Bridge". You would be completely wrong. Since Boris secured a second term and decided to become Tory leader on the back of his two stunning victories as Mayor, he's dumped the idea of being a sensible Tory Mayor and has set about transforming himself into Pharoah Boris, trying to leave as many monuments to himself as possible, from a few nicely painted painted lamp posts in North Finchley (courtesy of a £1,4 million Boris fund grant) to the mother of all vanity projects, the £175 Million Bridge. 
How anyone, least of all a Tory Mayor, can justify spending £175 million on this at a time when we are all suffering from austerity, when we can't 'afford' after school services for disabled children and we are imposing huge cuts on welfare for the poorest people in the country. What I find even more odd is that one of Boris first acts was to can the Thames Gateway Bridge. This bridge had a sensible business case and served an identified economic need. It would bring cost justified benefits and would generate economic activity that would more than offset its cost.

The Boris Garden Bridge serves no useful purpose at all. London already has many fine parks. Putting one in the middle of the Thames at huge expense is crazy. It seems that groups of more than 8 people will not be able to use it and it will be closed between midnight and 6am. It will obscure some of the best views of St Pauls from the South Bank and will cost £3.5 million a year for ever. The plans state that it will be used for 12 events a year. I for one cannot see the logic in making London even more congested and delivering nothing. 
As I said, I love Bridges, but as an engineer, the thing I love most about them is that they are functional. A bridge in London that can't carry cars, can't take bikes, groups of more than 8 people can't cross and which is shut between midnight and 6am is anything but functional. The fact that there are so many things in London which sorely need £175 capital investment and £3.5 million a year for ever, that would make a difference, surely is a no brainer even for the most lovestruck of the Boris groupies.
If you want to see fantastic gardens, I'd recommend Kew Gardens. If you want to see fine Bridges walk down the South Bank. Both of these you can already do for free.  Why on earth anyone wants to spend £175 on a useless eyesore is beyond me. I suspect Boris sees a few votes in luvvy endorsements from the likes of Joanna Lumley. Personally I think that most Londoners see the bridge for exactly what it is. A monolith to the golden haired one, paid for by his loyal subjects.


Don't Call Me Dave said...

Hello Rog

When you said on Monday that you were taking a break from political blogging, who was to realise that by Tuesday you would be back? That's faster than a Don't Call Me Dave comeback!

Rog T said...


This isn't politics, this is folly.

Dinky Londoner said...

Kew gardens free? Since when???