City counts the cost of its ‘cult classic’ mound
Failed Marble Arch ‘tourist attraction’ has been condemned as a £6million waste of money
Friday, 7th January — By Tom Foot
THE top boss of the Marble Arch Mound scooped a bigger annual salary than the chief executive, it has emerged in the week the bungled project was set to be closed for good.
Elad Eisenstein was appointed in October 2020 by Westminster Council as the Oxford Street District improvement director on £220,000 a year, before stepping down a year later.
The majority of booking slots for what was supposed to become “London’s most talked about tourist attraction” remained available last night (Thursday).
The botched mound project ensured Christmas came early for opposition councillors with the city council’s deputy leader tendering his resignation in the summer after overall costs for the project more than doubled to £6million.
The council leader Rachael Robathan described the attraction as a “cult classic”.
But an internal review led by the council chief executive found a series of failings in management.
The report said there were “clear and repeated warnings” about the project that were not acted upon.
It was claimed the bungling was a one-off and not evidence of systemic failings at City Hall in Victoria.
The flagship scheme, which was built to bring a buzz back to the West End after Covid-19, was supposed to provide panoramic views of the city and was billed as “one of London’s most talked about attractions”.
But the grand opening was delayed after a rush to get the mound open in time for the summer saw trees and bushes slip off the side during heavy rain.
And the city council failed to get private firms to follow through with half-a-million pounds of sponsorship for the tourist attraction.
Just £30,000 was raised overall with the taxpayer footing almost all of the costs at a time of great financial pressure on public services.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour city management spokesperson, said: “Just like Boris Johnson’s failing government, Westminster Conservatives have yet again over-promised and underdelivered on the Marble Arch Mound project, wasting £6million of public money on a scheme that cost three times more than the original estimates.
“The exaggerated claims the council made were never likely to be fulfilled and it is no surprise that sponsors were very difficult to find.
“The Westminster Conservatives have yet again shown themselves to be very poor guardians of public money at a time when public services are being cut and when every penny counts to help the young, the elderly, and others, who are in need of assistance.”
The council’s chief executive is paid £217,545 a year.
A council spokesperson said Mr Eisenstein’s salary was based on the industry standard and he left the job owing to personal reasons.
A statement on the council’s website added: “Trained as an architect and urban designer, Elad is a cities and regeneration expert with two decades of experience specialising in leading, designing and delivering complex and large-scale urban projects across the globe.”