As Westminster Conservatives prepare to start pulling down the failed £6 million Marble Arch Mound on 9th January, a copy of the Council’s sponsorship ‘prospectus’ which hoped to raise over £400,000 from the private sector to defray the costs of the project, has been discovered by Labour Councillors.
The Council’s sponsorship prospectus offered four levels of sponsorship for the Marble Arch Mound, which it called “London’s newest tourist attraction”:
- Lead Partner – £250,000 Contribution – “Leader partners will be able to use the facility for multiple private hires and receive unlimited corporate access.”
- Official Partner – £100,000 Contribution – “You will receive access for private hire and receive season tickets as well as discounted tickets for staff and partners.”
- Regional Partner – £50,000 Contribution “You will be able to use the venue for two private hire events as well as receive access and discount benefits for staff.
- Contribution Partner – £10,000 Contribution “Suitable for organisations seeking to showcase their brand and utilise the venue for 1 private hire event.”
In May 2021, the Council’s internal website boasted, “This installation is the council’s first venture into the visitor attraction world. It will have its own operations, ticketing system and merchandise in place to encourage people to visit the site”.
Because of the abysmal public and media reaction to the Mound, private sector sponsors have been hard to find with the Council admitting that only £160,000 has been pledged by sponsors. It is believed that the Portman Estate, New West End Company, BT and Marble Arch BID have been the only sponsors. However, according to Council officers, the Council has only received £30,000 from sponsors so far. The promised ‘Gala Launch Event’ for sponsors never took place.
The cost of the Marble Arch Mound project increased dramatically from £2 million to £6 million, leading to the resignation of the Council’s Deputy Leader. Plans to charge visitors for access to the Mound were abandoned following national, international and local media coverage which dubbed the project ‘London’s Worst Tourist Attraction’. It has cost the Council £150,000 a month to keep the Mound open, after it refused to listen to calls to ‘put the Mound out of its misery’ and pull it down. In October 2021, a Council internal investigation of the Mound project described the soaring costs of the scheme as “devastating” and “avoidable”. The report by the council’s chief executive said there were “clear and repeated warnings” about the project being overbudget.
Amongst the exaggerated claims made by the Council in its sponsorship prospectus about “this innovative and iconic project” which would give “sweeping views of central London” are:
“The installation introduces and park-like landscape of grass and trees and ‘lifts’ the corner of Hyde Park to create a spectacular 25-meter-tall viewpoint that gives visitors striking views of Oxford Street and the park, and a new perspective of Marble Arch itself.”
“The striking presence of a new green mound will be visible from afar, drawing people to see it wherever they are in the area.”
“When reaching the top, a viewing deck will offer 360-degrees views down Oxford Street and into Hyde Park, offering views never seen before by the wider public.”
“Marble Arch Mound is expected to generate tens of millions of pounds in incremental spending for the local economy across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.”
The Council also promised sponsors that, “Your brand will be on display on one of London’s most talked about attractions as visitors return to the city in large numbers this summer.” According to the Council’s sponsorship prospectus, sponsors could also expect huge publicity for their involvement. “Marble Arch Mound is a new London icon”, says the Council, “We therefore expect it to receive significant media
coverage both prior to its opening as well as throughout its operation in the summer months and leading to the Christmas period.”
The Council certainly got this final prediction correct. The Marble Arch Mound is first on the Daily Mail’s list of white elephants of 2021 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10115535/The-worlds-WORST-white-elephants-including-6million-Marble-Arch-Mound.html
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour City Management spokesperson, said:
“Just like Boris Johnson’s failing government, Westminster Conservatives have yet again over-promised and under-delivered on the Marble Arch Mound project, wasting £6 million of public money on a project that cost three times more than the original estimates.”
“The exaggerated claims the Council made about the Mound were never likely to be fulfilled and it is no surprise that sponsors were very difficult to find. Westminster Conservatives have yet again shown themselves to be very poor guardians of public money at a time when public services are being cut and when every penny counts to help the young, the elderly and others who are in need of assistance.”