Labour councillors are demanding to know why Westminster Council went ahead with the £32m Strand/Aldwych pedestrianisation scheme despite receiving no financial contributions from the private sector.
This project creates a car-free plaza in front of King’s College on the Strand with a budgeted cost of £32m. This is a significant capital investment. £32m represents 50% of a typical year’s Council Tax receipts for Westminster or sixty years of its youth services budget.
The Strand/Aldywch scheme was designed in partnership with high-profile local organisations including King’s College London, London School of Economics, Somerset House, The Courtauld Institute, High Commissions, theatres, restaurateurs and hoteliers. King’s College, Britain’s fourth richest University, will get a new pedestrian plaza outside its front door and has already used this for its fresher’s fayre.
Yet neither King’s nor any of the other local organisations will be making any financial contribution.
And Westminster hasn’t explained how the investment will generate any additional income for the council so that the £32m is returned to hard-pressed council taxpayers.
Councillor Geoff Barraclough, shadow cabinet member for planning said:
“King’s College is the main beneficiary of the scheme, yet this fabulously wealthy institution won’t be paying a penny. Following the Marble Arch Mound, this is another example of Westminster splurging taxpayer money on fancy designs for central London with no business plan to back up their plans.”