It was standing room only at a packed meeting organised by the Pimlico Alliance to muster opposition to the proposed cycle/pedestrian bridge from Nine Elms landing smack in the middle of Pimlico Gardens.
Two hundred angry people gathered under the chairmanship of Peter York, better known as co-author of the Sloane Ranger Handbook and now a resident of Warwick Square.
But it is the people of St George’s Square who will bear the main impact of the new bridge, projected to bring 18,000 cyclists and pedestrians scurrying through the quiet village of Pimlico every day.
As was said repeatedly at the meeting, they won’t be coming TO Pimlico, merely passing through it on their way to and from somewhere else and, as someone shouted, “intruding on our privacy.”
Businessman Tony Hambro, one of the main speakers, said the bridge would cost at least £100 million, of which Wandsworth Council, which wants it, says only £26 million would come from “income generated.” And that, he said was a weasely expression meaning nothing. Most of the money would have to come from public funds. There was just no case for the bridge.
Councillor Angela Harvey, who recently made a stirring speech against the bridge at a Westminster Council meeting, where she was strongly supported by the whole council, told tonight’s gathering that leaflets had been sent to 10,000 homes and 97 per cent of the responses were against the bridge.
But opposing it officially would be a long process, she warned. A public inquiry would open in Westminster on January 18 as a first step. Wandsworth would have to prove there was a good reason for the bridge and answer many questions, especially about the environmental impact.
Peter York said the bridge had no benefit for either Pimlico or Battersea. The people behind it were global developers for global people, an asset class. His opinion was echoed by other speakers who said the bridge would mainly help the developers of Nine Elms to increase their prices. So-called evidence of a demand for the bridge appeared to have been “cooked,” said York.
Others claimed many lies had been told in support of the bridge, and there had been no proper consultation. Even those who had been invited to take part in consultation had been “gagged.”
The bridge would cause more traffic pollution from hold-ups on the Embankment and destroy Pimlico Gardens, a “little jewel” of a public park and the last remaining of its kind on the river.
It would also create many problems for the boating centre sited there which provides “adventure” for hundreds of local young people. The bridge was “a vanity project” with no reason to exist, especially as a new cycle super highway had been built across Vauxhall bridge only 200 yards from the site of the proposed new bridge.
The mood of the meeting was in no doubt: only two brave souls voted against a motion opposing the bridge and to chants of “No bridge, no bridge” we dispersed into a rainy night.
There’s no doubt Pimlico hates the bridge but the several organisations who are against it, FREDA (representing 17 areas of Pimlico), the new Pimlico Alliance, residents of St George’s Square and Churchill Gardens need to unite in a single body of opposition to the bridge.
Metting held at St Saviour’s Hall, St George’s Square on 9 December 2015.