Garden Bridge will cost taxpayers twice as much to cancel

25 May 2016

It would cost taxpayers twice as much to cancel the Garden Bridge

Mayor of London: It would cost taxpayers twice as much to cancel the Garden Bridge as to complete it

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has used his first Mayor’s Question Time to lay bare the finances of the Garden Bridge.

Sadiq Khan said it would cost taxpayers more than twice as much to cancel the project now, as it would to complete it and build the new bridge.

TfL and the Government have previously committed £30 million each to the Garden Bridge Trust’s £175m project - with the remainder raised through private donations. Of the £30 million pledged by TfL, £20 million is in the form of a loan to be repaid in full.

Sadiq Khan revealed that of the £60 million total of taxpayers money pledged, £37.7 million has already been spent by the Garden Bridge Trust. If the project was scrapped now, this amount would be lost in full with no benefit at all for Londoners or taxpayers.

However, if the Garden Bridge is completed, not only will TfL be repaid its £20 million loan by the Garden Bridge Trust, but they will also pay approximately £22 million in VAT to the Treasury. That means the ultimate bill to taxpayers for completing the bridge will be £18 million – less than half the cost of cancelling the project now.

On this understanding, Sadiq Khan has given his support to the completion of the Garden Bridge but has demanded that it is made more accessible for all Londoners in return. Last week he called on the  Garden Bridge Trust to ensure:

  • The Bridge to be closed for fewer days each year for private fundraising events – the current plans are for 12 closures a year.
  • The Bridge to be closed for fewer hours each time it has to close for fundraising events, so that the Bridge can still be used in the morning and evenings – the current plans are for it to be closed from midnight to midnight.
  • A guarantee that children at local schools on either side of the river will get to visit the Garden Bridge and be involved in planting and maintenance – with a rolling programme of events for local school children.
  • The Garden Bridge Trust to build a strong working relationship with all of London’s parks, so that seeds and plants grown on the Garden Bridge can then be replanted in parks across the capital – ensuring it has a positive benefit for all Londoners.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “From the point at which I became Mayor, it was quite clearly in London taxpayers’ financial interest to complete the Garden Bridge project. It would simply cost Londoners more to cancel the project now, than it would to finish building the Garden Bridge.

 “If the Bridge was cancelled now taxpayers will have spent £37.7 million for no benefit at all. However if we complete the project and our loan is repaid in full then the ultimate cost to taxpayers will be under half that cost at £18 million.

 “So I will support the building of the Garden Bridge, but I am demanding that the project is made more accessible and open to all Londoners in return.

“I expect the Garden Bridge Trust to ensure that the Bridge be closed fewer days each year for private fundraising events and fewer hours when they do. I also want a guarantee that an ongoing programme of visits will be laid on for local school children.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Notes:

  • The total cost of the Garden Bridge will be £175 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.
     
  • £37.7 million has already been spent from the total £60 million pledged by Government and TfL. This could not be recovered if the Garden Bridge was cancelled.
     
  • However, if the Garden Bridge is finished, then not only will the £20 million loan be repaid to TfL, but 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.