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Wave goodbye to Garden Bridge £50M, says Khan

Garden bridge

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has admitted that £50M of public funds has already been spent on the Garden Bridge with almost no prospect of recovering it.

Talking on his “Speak to Sadiq” Q&A slot on LBC today (Tuesday), Khan slammed his predecessor Boris Johnson as he said the situation “does beggar belief”. Around £46.4M of public money has been spent on the scheme, with no construction work started on the Heatherwick Studio-designed bridge.

Dame Margaret Hodge’s report, published in April, recommended scrapping the project as represented “poor value for money”. A few weeks later, Khan scrapped his backing for the bridge and said he would not be providing financial guarantees from the GLA.

When LBC host James O’Brian asked if we will be “waving goodbye” to the £50M, Khan replied: “It does look that way, yep. Because it’s been spent.”

The project was originally designed to be 100% privately funded before then-mayor Boris Johnson and then-chancellor George Osborne pledged £60M from the GLA and Department for Transport. However, this rose dramatically to reach £200M by the time Hodge’s review recommended halting the bridge.

“As a consequence of the deal made by the previous mayor, monies were given to the trust by him and by the government – that money has been spent,” said Khan.

“I’m quite clear that no more taxpayers’ money, over which I have responsibility, will be spent”.

In May New Civil Engineer reported that £346,500 had been spent on enabling works at Temple Station alone, before funding concerns stopped the work.

“Public money was spent legitimately and as planned on detailed pre-construction plans as we have said on many occasions. It was always the intention to use the public investment first on pre-construction work and to kickstart the private fundraising drive,” said a spokesperson for the Garden Bridge Trust.

“It is also important to remember that the Charity Commission has looked closely at the governance of the Garden Bridge Trust. It concluded in a report published in February that the Trustees met their duties, financial management met the required standards, strategic leadership was provided, and that there was ‘robust and informed decision-making’.”

Readers' comments (5)

  • Philip Alexander

    What on earth has this money been spent on??? In all my 40 years as a UK consultant I have never seen consultant's fees of £46 million spent on a bridge for heaven's sake. Only £346000 of "enabling works" has been done, so where's the rest? There should be a full parliamentary inquiry into this gross waste of taxpayer's money and hold those responsible to account. Even if it is the UK Foreign Secretary. But we can safely ashe £46million which must have gone somewhere. Who was ripping off the naïve "Client"? Was it the architect, the engineering consultant, WHO???

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  • Philip Alexander

    Sorry, but the following phrase "But we can safely ashe £46million which must have gone somewhere" should have read "But we can safely assume he didn't trouser it, so £46 million must have gone somewhere".
    Apologies.

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  • How that big sum of money , about £50.00 million, was spent is surely worth finding out. No one in the right mind would want to spend that amount of money in the early part of the project without any justification .The tax payers surely deserve explanation

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  • This is the kind of story that gives Engineers a very bad name. This money seems to have been frittered away without any sensible progress. The Client (i.e. the taxpayer) has been cruelly cheated and everyone including us as Engineers can clearly see that this is the case.

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  • I agree that the bridge trust must fully explain what the money was spent on; but the responsibility must be on the politicians & their advisors.
    They should have realised that the whole thing was a vast waste of money and cancelled it without any public funding.

    If they thought the project really was viable; they should have insisted that Public money was to be used as a guarantee, and only small amounts of public "seed capital" spent before all private money was spent.

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