Friday, 7 October 2011

"Money is no object" for Boris's vanity projects say aides

Bank Note image by Beau Bo D'or
Boris Johnson is willing to spend hundreds of millions of public money in order to secure a personal legacy his senior aides have claimed.

According to the fascinating new biography Just Boris:

As he entered the fourth year of his mayoralty, City Hall staff noticed he was devoting a 'huge' proportion of his time trying to extract funds from private donors, often bankers and, yes, sometimes his friends at News International, but also little-known overseas companies for a range of increasingly bizarre even panicky 'legacy' projects. 'Subjects such as crime and transport are now much further down the agenda,' says one despairing aide... 'Money is no object when it comes to making these prestige projects happen,' observes one senior City Hall official. Despite the excitable puffs from City Hall, these are not free gifts to the metropolis as many assume. In fact, the total bill for all the Mayor's 'vanity projects' (as they are nicknamed privately, even by his staff) could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Boris's "increasingly bizarre" vanity projects have included a 'living bridge' (now forgotten) a Thames walkway (now in doubt) an Olympic erection (going up) and of course the cable car.

Sponsorship for what we must now call the "Emirates Air Line" was announced today. 

At £36 million the sponsorship will still leave Londoners with a bill of around £24 million. That's £24 million for a project that Boris promised would come "at no cost to taxpayers."

Now that's small change compared to the £140 million Boris has thrown at his cycle hire scheme (also promised at "no cost to taxpayers") or the as yet unknown cost of his new fleet of vanity 'Routemasters.'

But at least we can be grateful that the estimated £40 billion Boris wanted to spend on a new island airport will now definitely not be spent.

-Update- It looks like the Evening Standard got it wrong. Boris Johnson still wants his £40 billion airport.

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