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New probe into Garden Bridge funding fiasco

Cross-party investigation into project that was scrapped by London Mayor Sadiq Khan after costing taxpayers around £50million

16 November, 2018

An illustration of how the Garden Bridge, which would have linked Temple and South Bank, may have looked

A FRESH probe into the Garden Bridge collapse scandal was launched last night (Thursday).

The decision to scrap the £200million project is to be investigated by politicians at the Greater London Authority. The green bridge was supposed to cross the Thames between Temple and South Bank but London Mayor Sadiq Khan put a stop to the project in August last year.

The GLA probe will look specifically at decisions made by the managers, the Garden Bridge Trust, and Transport for London, which was at the time under the command of Boris Johnson.

Minutes of internal meetings of the trust have revealed how contracts were signed off before the project’s funding had been finalised. It led to a massive waste of taxpayers’ money believed to be in the region of £50million.

The cross-party probe will be headed by Labour Assembly Member Tom Copley and will include Green Party leader Sian Berry and the Conservative Gareth Bacon.

Green Party leader Sian Berry 

Mr Copley said: “One of the key issues we want the working group to consider relates to what the TfL officers… who were party to the information in the minutes… were saying to those higher up at TfL, because it is clear that things didn’t seem to be going particularly well and yet large sums of public money were still being handed over,” he told the Architects’ Journal. He also wanted the committee to investigate the role of the Charity Commission in the dispute.

The trust believes that TfL should release a further £9million to the trust to pay off developers who had started working on the project, said Mr Copley.

The bridge was supposed to be mainly funded through private donations, but the bulk of the money spent by the trust was from the £60million handed to the project by Mr Johnson’s administration.

The board of trustees included actress Joanna Lumley and its chairman was Mervyn Davies, Lord Davies of Abersoch, a banker who was a junior minister under Gordon Brown.

Other trustees included the PR executive Roland Rudd, the brother of Tory MP Amber Rudd, and Paul Morrell, formerly the chief government construction adviser.

The trust has not commented for some time and has not filed any accounts this year with Companies House.

But after the project was scrapped, Lord Davies said: “We received the mayor’s letter with great regret today. The Garden Bridge Trust was set up at the request of Transport for London and the Department for Transport to deliver the project which had received public money. We have had enormous support from our funders and are very confident we can raise the remaining funds required.

“But sadly the Mayor of London has taken a different decision to those in place when the project started.”

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