Churchill Labour Councillors Shamim Talukder and Jason Williams have called on Westminster Conservatives to clarify remarks made by the former London Deputy Mayor for Transport that Westminster Conservatives were happy to have a conversation about the Nine Elms Bridge “when the politics have settled down.”
During Dame Margaret Hodges’ review of the Garden Bridge on 21 November 2016 Isabel Dedring is quoted as saying: “[former Westminster Tory leader] Philippa Roe said, “We don’t need this big debate about the bridge in the middle of this by-election.” But, anyway I know there were discussions with Westminster where they said “This isn’t the right time for us”. She goes on to refer to the political circumstances which seem to relate to Churchill Ward and the Labour campaign there leading up to the 2014 Council elections.
Ms Dedring told the review that Westminster Council told her “we’re are happy to have this conversation but in a year’s time when the politics have settled down.” She said she was told “if you come back in a year or two and the Battersea development is more formalised and it’s clear that something is happening and our politics is settled down and we know that’s a Tory ward or not…”
Cllr Jason Williams said:
“This is a remarkable insight into the backroom calculations that the Westminster Tories have made over the Nine Elms Bridge. They have been saying one thing in private and quite another in public. It is clear from Isabel Dedring’s comments that the Westminster Tories approach would differ if Churchill was a Conservative-held ward and that they might be open to discussions about the bridge if they had won Churchill Ward in 2014.”
Cllr Shamim Talukder commented:
“We have been fighting against the bridge from the outset. It’s an expensive vanity project in an area which already has strong transport connections with Pimlico. There are real questions here for Westminster Conservatives about how upfront they have been with the community over their dealings with Wandsworth.”
The campaign against the Nine Elms Bridge – backed by the Labour Councillors – has been led by the community-based Pimlico Alliance, made up of local residents from across Pimlico.