MPs have condemned the Princess Diana memorial fountain as looking like a “bog and an open drain”, thanks to a litany of disasters including poor management and tornadoing costs.
The 40-page hatchet job in a Commons public accounts committee report blamed project management failures for lumping the Royal Parks Agency with a £250,000 annual upkeep bill.
The £5.2m design by US landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson was highly acclaimed when it opened in 2004. But it went over budget by £2.2m and was blighted with flooding and people slipping over.
Tory MP and committee chair Edward Leigh said the fountain was “ill-conceived” and “ill-executed”. The agency was complacent, lacked imagination and needed to “open its eyes” on how well it performed.
He asked: “Why within two or three weeks of this fountain opening did it look like a bog and an open drain outside Heathrow Airport?
“This so-called water feature will be a drain on the Royal Parks’ resources for years to come. It is a typical example of the great and good airily embarking on a project that takes away money badly needed for recreational facilities.”
Royal Parks’ chief executive Mark Camley denied Leigh’s suggestion that his group was “sliding gracefully into a state of decay” with a £65m maintenance backlog across its parks, buildings and statues.
Camley said that, on average, 94 per cent of users thought the parks were in good or excellent condition.
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