Labour have written to Westminster Council calling for answers to some of the key questions about why its £2 million flagship Marble Arch Mound project has so spectacularly flopped.
We have asked:
- Why is the finished design lower than originally intended? (it has not been built to the dimensions outlined in the planning permission)
- At what point it was known that the view from the top of the Mound would not clear the tree line?
- Who at the Council signed-off the project as ready to open when the café was not open, the exhibition not setup and the site was left scruffy (with bins and loose cables everywhere)?
- When did the Council know the project was going to be unable to deliver the level of greenery promised in the promotional material?
- Can any money be recouped from the contractors?
- Can the council please share revised projections for the number of paying attendees?
- What are the council’s revised projections for total cost recovery? (particularly in light of the decision to make the mound free in August)
- If the council will not receive expected visitor numbers will the council be liable for covering the shortfall? (i.e. how much will taxpayers lose)
- Are the council leadership aware of any concerns about the Mound raised by sponsors, stakeholders and officers prior to opening?
- Will Westminster Council agree to an independent investigation of its decision making and project management on the Marble Arch Mound project?
- Who are the project’s sponsors?
- Is the proportion of the scheme expected to be covered by sponsorship the same as in the May Cabinet Decision?
- Are all sponsors under contract with the council?
- Are all sponsors obligated to provide the previously agreed levels of funding?
- Have any of the sponsors been invoiced?
- What discussions have taken place with sponsors since ticket sales were suspended?
- Does the council expect it will have to reimburse any sponsors?
- How long is the permission to close Tyburn Way?
- Why was there no budget for bespoke perimeter security?
- Who approved the use of highways barriers/signage and the location of the bins?
- Why is there no signage for the site e.g. with maps and descriptors and something about both the project and the arch itself?
- Is there an anti-pigeon strategy?
- Why were the fountains turned off during the opening week?
- Where are the trees and bushes going to go at project completion?
- What discussions have taken place so far with community organisations or schools about where the trees etc. will go?
The council needs to be transparent about what went wrong with Westminster’s leadership and project management if it is to rebuild public confidence in its ability to deliver the wider £150m Oxford Street District Project and major regeneration projects across the city such as at Ebury Bridge and Church Street.
Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “There are some basic questions that the council needs to answer about what went wrong with its decision making and project management. These are questions must be answered now but Labour believes there needs to be an independent investigation of what happened to ensure this fiasco isn’t repeated.
We would also like to know why the Council Leader and its Deputy Leader who led the project haven’t given any public explanation about what has gone wrong?”