On Monday 16th May 2016, the Chair of the Inner London Ramblers, Phil Marson, was invited by Thames Central Open Spaces to join with MPs, GLA members, Lambeth councillors and representatives of other community and environmental organisations to address a public meeting called to ask the new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to put a stop to the proposed 'Garden Bridge' over the Thames between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges.

Find out more about what happened at the meeting at the TCOS web site.  While you are there, you can support the campaign by contributing to the campaign and legal fund, writing to the decision makers and getting involved in the campaign.

Speakers at the Garden Bridge public meetingInner London Ramblers oppose the bridge because of its impact on the Thames Path, because it involves the enclosure and privatisation of a currently public and freely accessible space, and because the public money being spent on it could be better spent improving the walking environment, delivering economic, health and environmental benefits to Londoners.

The bridge will have an immediate impact on the views from the Thames Path; the vista across the river that you get as you emerge from underneath Waterloo Bridge will be replaced by the underside of another bridge.  The projected additional visitors combined with the narrowing of the embankment path will create another area as crowded and difficult to navigate as the cluster of tourist attractions near the London Eye and County Hall.  This part of the Thames Path currently gets 20 million visitors a year.  It doesn't need to attract any more.

The proposed bridge will replace a space on the South Bank that was leased to the Coin Street Builders on the condition that it remain open to the public and free from commercial activities with a massive building containing a cafe and gift shop, and access (including a 'queueing area') to the bridge.  The pocket park on top of Temple Station on the North Bank will be similarly destroyed.  The bridge will not be open at night and will close several weekends a year for private parties and will be patrolled by private security guards when it is open. 

This enclosure is being paid for with our money - £20M has been lent on easy terms to the trust.  Another £40M will be gifted, and running costs, planned to be in excess of £3M per annum will be guaranteed by TfL.  This money could be much better spent enriching the places Londoners actually want to go, and encouraging visitors to got to parts of the City beyond the congested places they congregate in now.  For example, a fraction of this money could be used to:

  • Improve and promote our strategic walking network - hundreds of miles of paths all over the city
  • Develop the Peckham Coal Line - the Garden Bridge is sometimes compared by its promoters with New York's High Line.  The Peckham Coal Line, the imaginateive reuse of existing infrastructure to open up public spaces is much more in the spirit of the High Line
  • Implement the London National Park City - to encourage new green spaces and routes across London.

We therefore call on the new Mayor to halt this wasteful project now, Southwark Council to withdraw its support, and Coin Street Community Builders to recognise the views of its residents and neighbours, and their elected representatives at local council, assembly and parliament and refuse to lease the Asset of Community Value they have stewardship over to the Garden Bridge.