The Garden Bridge design procurement
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.