Dame Margaret Hodge MP’s Garden Bridge report has revealed the project to be financially unsustainable.
Dame Margaret found that the project did not secure value taxpayers’ money, and urged Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, not to sign any further guarantees until the Garden Bridge Trust can confirm private investment.
The Garden Bridge is a proposed footbridge and public garden over the River Thames, linking Temple with the South Bank.
The review was commissioned in October 2016 and sought to assess the value for money of the Garden Bridge Project. It also looked into the policies and procedures adopted to implement the project and the conduct of those involved.
“I did not seek to ask whether the concept of a garden bridge over the River Thames is a good idea. But my review has found that too many things went wrong in the development and implementation of the Garden Bridge Project,” said Dame Margaret.
“In the present climate, with continuing pressures on public spending, it is difficult to justify further public investment in the Garden Bridge.”
Some key findings of the report include:
- Decisions on the Garden Bridge were driven more by electoral cycles than value for taxpayers’ money.
- The costs have escalated from an early estimate of £60m to over £200m today
- The risk to the taxpayer has intensified. The original ambition to fund the Garden Bridge through private finance has been abandoned. The Garden Bridge Trust has lost two major private donors and has pledges of £69million with no new pledges secured since August 2016. With a public sector contribution of £60 million, that leaves a gap in capital funding of at least £70 million. Furthermore, very little progress has been made on raising money to fund the ongoing maintenance of a completed bridge.
- There was not an open, fair and competitive process around the two TfL procurements for the Garden Bridge Project. The two procurements revealed systemic failures and ineffective control systems at many levels.
- The Garden Bridge Trust’s finances are in a precarious state and many outstanding risks remain unresolved.