Iain Dale is Leading Britain's Conversation.
2 February 2016, 09:51
Boris Johnson On The Ropes Over Garden Bridge
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Boris Johnson labelled people against the Garden Bridge "demented enemies" as he came under fire over the Garden Bridge bidding process.
The £175 million Garden Bridge will stretch across the Thames, linking the South Bank to Temple station.
But LBC's Political Editor discovered that the Mayor of London invited the bridge's designer Thomas Heatherwick to a meeting with executives at Apple where the Garden Bridge was discussed, a week before architects were invited to bid on the project.
During Ask Boris, he was put under heavy pressure by Nick Ferrari, but Mr Johnson insisted that Mr Heatherwick did not receive preferential treatment.
Nick Ferrari said: "The fact that he's [Thomas Heatherwick] sitting down with potential sponsors and other rivals that are bidding for it are not being made aware of it. That's not preferential treatment?
"You were a journalist of considerable note at one point in your career. Do you not think this starts to smell?"
The Mayor hit back: "The Garden Bridge is ringed with demented enemies, who do not want to see something beautiful established in the centre of London."
Caller Michael in Lambeth, who put the question to Mr Johnson, insisted: "You kept the entire TfL board in the dark. You are the chair. You didn't report anything to them until six months after your San Francisco trip.
"One of your own TfL board actually came and complained to us that they had not been informed about this. That's how serious this is."
But Mr Johnson hit back, saying: "The San Francisco trip Michael, as you know full well, did not yield any dosh.
"This whole interrogation, this line of enquiry has been totally pointless.
"What we tried to do was to raise substantial sums from private sponsorship for the Garden Bridge. That bid did not pay off. Subsequent bids have paid off.
"But there was absolutely no connection between that effort and the eventual procurement process.If you look at the procurement process, no fault has been found with it. In the end, there were three bids and the Heatherwick Studios bid came out on top."
Theo Usherwood was not happy with some of the Mayor's responses. Mr Johnson insisted the trip had never been a private trip, but this entry from his own diary suggests otherwise.
Commentators took to Twitter to complain that the Mayor was not answering the important questions being asked. Rupert Myers, the Policial Correspondent for GQ, wrote:
I'm a huge fan of the Garden Bridge, but the questions @theousherwood is helping to raise are not being answered.— Rupert Myers (@RupertMyers) February 2, 2016