Assembly meeting

The Garden Bridge review

Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that Dame Margaret Hodge MP will lead a review into the Garden Bridge project.

Sadiq is focussed on making the Garden Bridge project as transparent as possible. He has said:

I’m clear that since the beginning of the project there hasn’t been the necessary standard of transparency and openness around the Garden Bridge. Nearly £40m of public money has already been spent on the Garden Bridge project, and Londoners deserve far more information about the decisions that have been made around how their money is being spent.

Why is this review happening?

In his first week as Mayor, Sadiq promised to look into the decisions made around contributions from the public sector to this project. He then published the full business plan for the Garden Bridge project, as well as a list of its funders. 

This review will:

  • look in detail at whether value for money has been achieved from taxpayers’ contributions
  • investigate the work of Transport for London (TfL), the Greater London Authority (GLA) and other relevant authorities on the Garden Bridge, going back to when it was first proposed

Once the review is completed, a report will be produced for the Mayor.

What is the Garden Bridge and how would it be funded?

The Garden Bridge is a proposed footbridge and public garden over the River Thames, linking Temple with the South Bank.

Sadiq has made his view clear that no new London taxpayers’ funds should be committed to the Garden Bridge. He has also demanded that the Bridge is a genuinely public and open space for all Londoners, with strict limits on how often the Bridge is closed for private events.

 

Funding outline:

  • the Garden Bridge Trust has stated that the total cost of the project is currently estimated at £185 million
  • £60 million of public money has been pledged – with £30 million from TfL and £30 million from the Government. £20 million of the money pledged by TfL is in the form of a loan to be repaid in full
  • approximately £37 million has already been spent from the total £60 million pledged by Government and TfL
  • however, if the Garden Bridge is finished, then the £20 million loan be repaid to TfL, and the Garden Bridge Trust will need to pay approximately £22 million in VAT to the Treasury – leaving an ultimate cost to the taxpayer of £18 million

About the review in more detail

Dame Margaret Hodge will chair the review. She has been Member of Parliament for Barking since 1994 and served as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee between 2010 and 2015, scrutinising all areas of government spending, and holding Government and civil servants to account.

The Garden Bridge review will look in detail at the procurement process around the project, and whether required standards have been met around transparency and openness, back to the beginning of the project.

Terms of reference

The terms of the reference for the review will include:

  • To assess the public sector contribution to the Garden Bridge project and whether value for money has been achieved
  • To investigate the conduct of Transport for London, the Greater London Authority and other relevant authorities in regard to the Garden Bridge project from first proposal to date
  • To achieve this through assessing the findings of previous reviews, interviewing current and former GLA/TfL staff and other stakeholders, and investigating more deeply as required
  • To set out any lessons that should be learnt in order to improve the conduct of potential and approved projects in the future
  • To produce a report for the Mayor of London, which will be published in full

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