Tuesday 15 August 2017

Common Sense Prevails - The Garden Bridge is cancelled

Image result for broken bridge
The dead bridge - the end of afinancial disaster
Back in 2015, I wrote a blog entitled The Garden Bridge - The mother of all vanity projects. An amazing thing happened, Brian Coleman, my political arch enemy tweeted that he agreed with me! Coleman would not say such a thing lightly. But both he and I recognised that the project was a complete waste of money, didn't solve any issues and was likely to be a money pit for decades. The officially quoted price was £175 million. Apparently it's cost nearly £50 million without the construction even starting. Based on this, I'd estimate that it would probably cost four times this amount.

I've run a successful business for 38 years. I have a few simple rules. The first is that I never spend any money on things which there is no good business case for. The second is that I have a list of priorities and I spend money on the most important and all the nice to haves have to wait. I regularly ask my staff what we could do to make things better in the business. A few years ago one said "why don't we get energy saving bulbs?" This was a simple suggestion that saved money, so we did it. Another one said "why don't we replace all the amps in the studios with top of the range new models". I thought about this. Yes, the amps would look nice, but it would cost tens of thousands of pounds and would it ever bring that back. So I did a questionairre for our customers. I asked about various things. Not one mentioned that they'd like top of the range amps in the studios. Most guitarists want something simple to use. Those that have special requirements, bring their own. Most players these days use effects pedals. In short, there was no business case. The customers actually said that they'd prefer better bathroom facilities, so this was what we did.

How many Londoners think the garden bridge was the best way to spend hundreds of millions of quid? I don't know any. Sure Joanna Lumley and a bunch of luvvies think it would be wonderful, but it doesn't solve any problems and will create quite a few. London already has great parks. I was discussing this with someone who said "Well what would you spend the money on". My answer? Nothing. Why is there this idea that you have to spend money. If someone comes up and says "I've got a great idea that will cost £175 million, will cut congestion in London, won't put a burden on the taxpayer for decades and will give a payback", I'd be all for it, but just trying to dream up projects to spend the dosh on is ridiculous.

When it comes to river crossings, there is a case for a new one in East London. One which cars can use. There is a case for crossrail 2, which will transport commuters. There is a case for the Brent Cross Light railway, which will improve commuting and reduce congestion in our neck of the woods. But all of these need proper business cases and justifications. They all need proper scrutiny. They all must be shown to deliver benefits to the tax payer.

The Garden Bridge did none of this. It solved no probems. It added little benefit. The oddest thing is that a Tory Mayor was its arch supporter. As far as I am concerned it is more abut his ego than anything. The only mistake Sadiq Khan made was not cancelling it on day 1.  It's just a shame that we've flushed nearly £50 million quid down the bog to achieve nothing.

1 comment:

CalvinCasino said...

I am so happy that the scandalous & rubbish of the Garden Bridge is cancelled.