The Deputy leader of Westminster Council has resigned after costs for the Marble Arch Mound reached £6m – almost double the amount forecast.
The Mound, which opened on July 26th, was heavily criticised by visitors who were charged to climb the 25-meter, muddy heap before construction was finished. Ticket holders have received refunds and the attraction has since reopened to the public for free.
“The Mound opened too early, and we have apologised for that,” said Rachael Robathan, the leader of Westminster Council. “It has become clear that costs have risen more than anticipated and that is totally unacceptable.
“Our original forecast cost was £3.3 million. Total costs are now £6m, covering every aspect of the project: construction, operation and eventual removal.”
Robathan announced that “with regret” she had “accepted the resignation” of the council’s deputy leader, Melvyn Caplan, who led the Mound project. Caplan has served as a councillor for Little Venice Ward since 1990 and was previously leader of the council.
“We have also instigated a thorough internal review to understand what went wrong and to ensure it never happens again” Robathan added.
The Mound, which was designed by Dutch company MVRDV, offers views of Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone.
Councillors had hoped the attraction would help to attract visitors back to the city centre and Robathan is still confident that the attraction can do just that.
She said “The Mound may delight or divide views and that’s OK, but we’re confident that in the end it will fulfil its original brief – to get people back into the West End and remind them of why this is a world-class city”
The Mound will reopen to the public fully in September and will remain free to visit during August.