The lack of a business case for the national flagship is, perhaps, not unsurprising, given Boris Johnson’s track record with iconic projects.
The Garden Bridge project being a case in point. These extracts are from Architect’s Journal article on 15th October 2019:
“A new report by the London Assembly has accused former mayor Boris Johnson, Transport for London (TfL) and the Garden Bridge Trust of a ‘reckless’ use of public money, heaping pressure on Parliament to investigate.
The report concluded that the risks of the Thomas Heatherwick-designed scheme were ‘downplayed’ by TfL to satisfy the former mayor.”
“The report said that at the board’s subsequent meeting on 14 January, chair of the trustees Mervyn Davies discussed the prospects for signing the construction contract but advised fellow trustees not to read the contract in full.
Instead, Davies suggested they make their decision based on a summary report because ‘issues arise when trustees with little or no experience are asked to submerge themselves into something that they may not fully comprehend’.
Nevertheless, the report noted, some trustees expressed concern that the trust might be acting in a ‘reckless’ manner in signing the contract, given that they still did not have full funds in the bank and that the project was facing 22 significant risks.”
I was gobsmacked when I read those last three paragraphs. I could well imagine the reaction had I, as the chair of governors of a secondary school, told my colleagues that they were not competent to assess the project on which we were deliberating and that they should just back it.
Boris Johnson’s cavalier approach to such projects bends out of shape the very processes needed to at least try and deliver them.
Vague technical solutions were once in the offing to defuse the SS Richard Montgomery, preparatory to building the Boris Island Airport in the Thames.
In 2012, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said, “Clearly the wreck of the SS Montgomery would need to be considered however some of Britain’s finest engineers have already closely studied the area and concluded it would not prevent construction of an airport.”
Are these the finest engineers who will be designing and building the HBS Free(loading) Enterprise?
A 2004 report by the New Scientist stated, if the sunken ship did explode it would be one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts ever.
Johnson has for years never had a lot of time for experts with whom he disagrees. That does not bode well for his latest vanity project.