Don’t forget the taxpayer in the Garden Bridge deal

24 November 2014

The Garden Bridge could represent good value for Transport for London’s (TfL) £30 million investment; however there are risks for TfL as first investor and it must ensure that in return for the risk, public benefits, such as free access, are guaranteed.

The London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee Report ‘The Viability of Sponsored Transport Schemes’ asks the question – under what conditions would the Mayor be prepared to increase TfL’s contribution?

Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee, John Biggs AM said;

“The Garden Bridge is a controversial proposal, and its details need to be properly ironed out. The Mayor agreed to provide £30 million from TfL’s budget to help get it built and, in return, TfL needs to ensure that the public’s access rights are guaranteed. The Mayor also needs to ensure that the cost to the taxpayer won’t be increased without very careful consideration.

Using private funding to help pay for transport schemes can help get them up and running at less cost to the tax and fare payer. The income that sponsorship has generated for the Cycle Hire Scheme and Thames Cable Car has been helpful but sponsorship is more than just the money – it can play a really useful part in encouraging people to use public transport. TfL’s sponsorship contract with Barclays runs out in 2015 and it’s vital that the next sponsorship deal gets more people on their bikes.”

The report makes a number of recommendations:

TfL’s formal funding agreement with the Garden Bridge Trust should ensure that, in return for its £30 million investment, free public access and other public benefits from the bridge are guaranteed in perpetuity.

For the next sponsorship deal on the Cycle Hire Scheme (CHS), TfL should weight its selection process towards the potential sponsor’s plans and ability to promote the scheme and grow its ridership.

TfL should bring the CHS fully into its regular ticketing and payment systems when the next operator contract starts in 2017 (or before, if technically and financially feasible).

TfL should set out its policy in terms of the requirements it places on external organisations receiving investment funding from TFL to act in a transparent manner and disclose information to the public.

Notes for editors:

Read the Budget and Performance Committee’s Report ‘The Viability of Sponsored Transport Schemes’ (attached)

John Biggs AM, Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee is available for interview – see contact details below.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and balance on the Mayor

For more details, please contact Alison Bell in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4228. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, on 020 7983 4100.