Assembly committees

The Garden Bridge design procurement

Date published: 
14 December 2017

The GLA Oversight Committee has been examining the procurement of the Garden Bridge design contract since September 2015.  Questions were raised about the process following a series of Freedom of Information Requests by journalists and Assembly Members.

This page outlines the key stages of the Committee’s work and any resulting letters sent, or documents released, during the process. The final report, which has the support of the majority of the Committee, finds:

  • The Mayor should have been more upfront about the range and nature of contacts between his Office, TfL senior management and Heatherwick Studio.
  • There were a series of procedural errors in the procurement process.
  • The final published audit failed to address the original objective.

The recommendations include:

  • TfL to consider reimbursing the unsuccessful bidders from the Garden Bridge design contract to compensate them for the time and expense incurred in preparing their proposals for a pedestrian bridge. 
  • The Mayor’s office should compile written records of all meetings the Mayor holds with external bodies, including clarity about what capacity he is there in.
  • Where major priority projects are commissioned by a future Mayor and are not in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, that the Mayor implements them by directing the TfL Board.
  • The TfL Audit & Assurance Committee should publish audit reports in full, not just the summary and conclusions as is now the case.

TfL Commissioner response to the Chair on Garden Bridge issues

Read the letter from the Commissioner

Garden Bridge summons of former Mayor Boris Johnson (14 December 2017) - GLA Oversight Committee

Supplementary Agenda Item

Garden Bridge document summons (19 July 2017) - Budget & Performance Committee

Letter from Chief of Staff, David Bellamy in response to summons request (31 July 2017)


*The transcript documents published were obtained by the Budget and Performance Committee, using its statutory power of summons, in July 2017. These documents are the original versions of the transcripts; the participants had not been given the opportunity to provide comments or corrections on the contents of these versions of the documents.

FOI Disclosure Log

Garden Bridge Review Interview Transcripts (September 2017)

Meeting 1 – 17 September 2015

On 17 September, the GLA Oversight Committee examined the procurement of the Garden Bridge’s design contract with

  • Richard De Cani, Managing Director of Planning at TfL
  • Will Hurst, Deputy Editor of Architect’s Journal and
  • Walter Menteth, of Walter Menteth Architects

Concerns had been raised about the fairness and transparency of the process after a series of documents were released to Will Hurst under the Freedom of Information Act. Although TfL had declared that it was satisfied that the process was robust, Sir Peter Hendy, former Chief Executive of TfL, ordered an internal audit review of the procurement and agreed to publish the results.  The audit report was released to the public on 16 September and formed the basis of our Committee’s discussion on the 17th.

Transcript of the GLA Oversight Committee meeting – 17 September

TfL Internal Audit Review of the Garden Bridge procurement process

Following this meeting, GLA Oversight Committee Members were sent an earlier draft of the internal audit review which had been submitted to the Managing Director of Planning at TfL on 22 July 2015. The Chair wrote to TfL on 30 September to request “all iterations of the internal audit review document of the procurement of design and development services … alongside any emails or notes relating to the changes that have been made to the document.” TfL complied on the 15th October.

TfL Submission 1 - 15 October 2015

Meeting 2 – October 2015

In October, the Committee met with the Director of Internal Review at TfL to discuss how the Garden Bridge Internal Review was carried out, including how certain changes in scope and conclusions were made.

Transcript of the GLA Oversight Committee meeting – 22 October

As a result of the Committee’s requests, TfL released a further set of documents, including notes from the auditors who carried out the Internal Review, and the original legal advice offered by TfL Legal on procurement in January 2013.  This submission included a letter to the Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee, and five appendices

Letter to the Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee

Appendix 1 - Letter from Sir Peter Hendy to Caroline Pidgeon AM

Appendix 2 - Scope for TfL Internal Review

Appendix 3 – Legal advice on procurement from TfL Legal

Appendix 4 – Meeting notes from original auditor

Letter to the TfL Audit and Assurance Committee – December 2015

After reviewing the evidence gathered, the GLA Oversight Committee wrote to  TfL Audit and Assurance Committee the on 3 December to outline three main concerns:  how the focus of the audit changed towards the end of the process, the changes made to the conclusion as a result of discussion with TfL senior management and the degree of input those managers had in the final version of the review.

The Committee received a reply from the Chair of TfL’s Audit and Assurance Committee on 15 December 2015

Letter to the TfL Audit and Assurance Committee – 3 December 2015

Response from TfL Audit and Assurance Committee – 15 December 2015

Meeting 3 – December 2015

In December, the GLA Oversight Committee met with the Mayor of London (and Chair of TfL’s Board) and the TfL Commissioner to discuss broad strategic issues which had been raised by its past work.

Transcript of the meeting
Watch the webcast

Meeting 4 – 25 February 2016

The GLA Oversight Committee met with Keith Williams, Chair of TfL’s Audit and Assurance Committee to discuss that Committee’s response to the Oversight Committee letter dated 3 December.

Transcript of the meeting

Watch the webcast

Response from TfL Audit and Assurance Committee – 9 March 2016

The report is the view of a majority of the Committee including Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green London Assembly Members. The GLA Conservatives did not support the conclusions of the report.  See their minority opinion at Appendix 1.