Westminster Labour are deeply concerned about the delays to key aspects of the Marble Arch Mound, Westminster Council’s £2m artificial hill, which the council hopes will attract new visitors to the West End.
The scheme was pitched as creating a verdant, tree covered slope that would provide panoramic views across London, as well as café, shop and exhibition space for a new light based art installation.
However when the Mound opened to the public on Monday 26th July the café, shop and exhibition space weren’t ready (though councillors have been told this should now be opening next week). The look of the Mound remains dramatically different to the artists impression originally advertised, given the comparative lack of trees and plants. Even basic stuff like tidying up loose cabling or the bins didn’t seem to have been done.
As a result the public feedback so far has been far from positive both from those who have visited the Mound in its current form being branded as a ‘slag heap’ (in the Daily Mail) and ‘London’s Worst Attraction’ (in the Evening Standard), as well as critical reviews on social media (such as this). The council has needed to offer refunds to those attending this week.
The Council was predicting that the Mound would receive 280,000 ticketed visitors between now and January 2022. Failure to hit those targets would leave a significant shortfall in the project’s £2million budget, with the taxpayer picking up any gap.
Westminster Labour Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “It is really worrying that Westminster Council doesn’t seem to have got a grip of this flagship project that they had made the centrepiece of their efforts to revitalise the West End after the pandemic.
The Council needs to urgently fix the outstanding defects with the Mound and undertake an urgent review about what went wrong. Taxpayers must not be left footing the bill for these failings if it misses its ticket targets.”
(Left hand image is an artists impression provided by the Council; the image on the right, taken by Cllr David Boothroyd, is the reality as of 27th July)