Saturday19 August 2017

Procurement blunders saddle Garden Bridge with 'tainted' reputation, says GLA report

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Watchdog concludes mayor’s office and TfL were ‘too secretive and defensive’ as process came to light

A GLA report has said procurement of the £175 million Garden Bridge was beset by blunders, missing paperwork, defensive responses and confusion – besmirching its reputation before it has even been built.

The GLA oversight committee said the evidence gathered led it to “conclude that the objectivity and fairness of this procurement process was adversely affected by these actions, which casts a shadow on the ultimate outcome”.

Three firms were asked to bid for the scheme under a design competition – Marks Barfield, Wilkinson Eyre and eventual winner Heatherwick Studio.

It said London mayor Boris Johnson should have been more upfront about the range and nature of contacts between his office, senior management at competition organiser Transport for London and Heatherwick Studio.

Among the recommendations it made were that TfL consider reimbursing Marks Barfield and Wilkinson Eyre and that in the future the mayor’s office “should compile written records of all meetings the mayor holds with external bodies, including clarity about what capacity he is there in”.

The committee chair, Labour assembly member Len Duvall, said: “This whole process was badly handled from start to finish. TfL started work without a clear idea of the extent of its eventual involvement, which led to confusion among staff and managers in the early stages of the project. The mayor’s private office was less than honest about where he was, what he was doing there and why.

“In fact, the situation probably appeared worse than it actually was – due to the secretive and defensive nature of various responses from TfL and the mayor.

“Also, because there was confusion about the purpose of the bridge, the two other companies tendered for a pedestrian bridge contract. This was unfair – only Heatherwick Studio was fully aware of the desire for a ‘garden bridge’.

“What should be a great tourist attraction, has been tainted by the dodgy design procurement process. Whether the Garden Bridge can overcome its controversial beginnings will remain to be seen.”

The report is the view of a majority of the committee including Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green London Assembly members, he said.

The GLA Conservatives did not support the conclusions of the report and instead produced an alternative – called a minority opinion – which said it should have focused on “the difficulty of procurement when a project evolves significantly”.

The mayor’s office has previously said that a TfL audit had found the procurement process “open, fair and transparent”.

Work on the bridge, which is being led by French contractor Bouygues, is due to begin this summer and finish in 2018.



Readers' comments (6)

  • Dig, dig, dig deeper to find the visible foundation to the lie of the bridge, who were actually the auditor and originator, the proposer,...... dig, dig, dig......will david protect boris? - will this be his grexit?

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  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_Os2Q6OdbY

    haha no

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  • At what point does ‘too secretive and defensive’ become fraudulent?

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  • A report into a late FOI info. release http://www.projectcompass.co.uk/index.php?page=aboutus&sub=publications_garden_bridge
    (Summary page 7), by Project Compass identifies many more anomalies in the procurement of the 2nd Arup contract than were understood at the time this GLA report was in preparation. This further sustains the views of the GLA oversight majority report and the increasing depth of concerns. Independent legal opinion on the entire procurement process has found it was legally defective throughout. This has been an illegal heist, spun out by its supporters at tax payers expense and the project should be stopped before any more public money is wasted. It is time to say enough is enough!

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  • "In fact, the situation probably appeared worse than it actually was" -
    ...or alternatively the surface is only just been scratched!
    Why should the GLA give TfL and BJ any benefit of the doubt? They have continued to bluster, spin and obfuscate as the information has slowly come out through tenacious journalistic investigation, FOI requests, and determined analysis without fear or favour (thanks Walter!).

    GLA Conservatives excuse the machinations on the basis of “the difficulty of procurement when a project evolves significantly”.
    Let's not forget the Garden Bridge project has been around in it's present form as an idea from Lumley/Heatherwick/Arups since around 2003. There was no options appraisal, no alternative sitings, no design competition - the project has not "evolved" at all such that its procurement was of necessity in any way difficult to plan. Boris and co. knew exactly what and who they wanted from the beginning, they just had to invent a way to make it happen whose illegality would not be uncovered.

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  • The contest is illegitimate, illegal and a cover up.

    Certain people in London know this fully well.

    Coin Street must say no.

    Cameron must say no.

    Others in the know in high places need to say no, before everyone is in the know and starts asking those in the know in high places, how come you know, and have you let others know?

    A fall from high places can hurt both the citizen, the member and the institution of the city. Those who know could now stand up and be counted - as waiting for an 'outing' once construction starts will simply serve to bury them deeper, in the lie at the foundation of this rotting bridge.

    As to BoJo - he knows, its simply a matter of time........
    As to Cameron - he know, its simply a matter of who pushes first.......

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