Good riddance to the Garden Bridge: an eye-watering waste of public funds
Walter Menteth article originally published 11 May, 2017 in
With one swift blow, London Mayor Sadiq Khan confounded plans to construct a leafy walkway above the River Thames. By refusing to guarantee further public funds, the mayor leaves the Garden Bridge project with a funding gap of some £70m, and a countdown of just eight months until planning permission expires.
HUGE PROBLEMS WITH QUALITY IN UK CONSTRUCTION IS APPARENT. ACTION MUST FOLLOW.
(Walter Menteth article originally publish on LinkedIn pulse March 19, 2017)
Over recent months significant construction issues have been reported that highlight major deficiencies in UK procurement culture.
The Orchard Village Estate, Lakanal House in Southwark, The Edinburgh PFI schools programme, Catalyst Housings Portobello Squaredevelopment, Solomon’s Passage in Southwark, and Bovis’s recent £70m pay out to purchasers, are some recently reported examples.
The common thread between each one of these is poor scrutiny, lack of oversight and co-ordination, where responsibilities and the supervision for implementing qualitative judgements had become confused, or worse disdained or ignored. The quality of the construction works has ultimately suffered with disastrous consequences, none of which should have happened.
(This article originally appeared on Dec. 16, 2017 on the Architects’ Journal website, HERE.)
Those with their noses pressed firmly to the grindstone of the public sector will know that 2016 presented an increasingly exasperating array of pungent procedures and cack-handed contracts.
Despite evidence of good practice emerging in isolated pockets across the UK, many of us continued to wrestle with excessively complex, unnecessarily verbose prequalification questionnaires and archaic and bewildering web portals seemingly coded on a Commodore 64.
It was a big year for high-profile cultural projects. The Museum of London began and concluded the selection of a design team for its new Smithfield home, with the award going to a talented team headed by Stanton Williams. Meanwhile, in Essex, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council commenced, abandoned, and began again its search for an architect to take forward the Thames Estuary Museum it had previously awarded back in 2009, but which had ground to a halt in the seven years since AEW’s original scheme won planning. Quite who’s up for taking on this apparently Sisyphean task might become apparent early in the new year.
There have been significant recent revelations about the Thames Garden Bridge in London and the Garden Bridge Trusts structure and funding.
These reveal the Trusts near exclusive reliance on public funding, which reputedly amounts to £30m from Transport for London, £30m from central government, along with the costs and liabilities of indemnifying the project along with the contracts the Trust has entered into.
There have also been revelations about the number of significant and expensive contracts the Trust have now let on their own account, at exceptionally high risk. These have onerous obligations and damaging break clauses. These have been let prior to the project having received full authority and clearance to proceed with construction. Continue reading “Flying by the seat of their pants”
Project Compass has published a Brexit Briefing for Architects outlining the likely impact of the European referendum on public procurement in the UK. We will endeavour to update you when clarification becomes available as to how international trade in professional services will be impacted by any new trade agreements.
Update: As of December 17, 2017 no trade agreements have yet been entered into but there has now been confirmation of a transition period which would appear to ensure continuity of the existing procurement framework and its ongoing alignment with the EU for a further two year period.
Following Project Compass’s detailed submission of critical evidence into the procurement of design services for the Thames Garden Bridge to the GLA Oversight Committee 17/9/15, and the subsequent Project Compass Thames Garden Bridge Procurement Report 02/16 examining both procurements of design and project management/engineering services, a significant number of other further fundamental concerns have been brought to light.
A purpose in aligning EU procurement regulations has been to ensure our closest markets are freely accessible for design services. The EU has constructively contributed to ensure the ongoing reform of procurement is made better, fairer, more accessible and can stimulate growth. Project Compass research evidence highlights many of the worst procurement practices uniquely emanate from the UK. The Leave campaign have presented no policy on how improvement might be achievable or delivered, with no evidence that leaving the EU would benefit UK construction procurement. In this absence what have we to go on? Continue reading “#Remain in Europe”
(Walter Menteth article originally appeared in January 31, 2016 on LinkedIn pulse)
From all that is now known about the Thames Garden Bridge it has become increasingly apparent that this project represents a turning point. Its entire procurement is characterised by corruption that is tainted by nepotism and collusion.