The Garden Bridge Has Officially Been Cancelled

City AM
By City AM Last edited 13 months ago

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The Garden Bridge Has Officially Been Cancelled
Image: The Garden Bridge Trust

London's £200m Garden Bridge has been ditched after losing the mayor's backing, the charity leading the project confirmed today.

The Garden Bridge Trust had been planning a garden bridge across the Thames from Temple to the South Bank, but said today it will be winding up the project, after informing the Mayor of London, TfL and the Department for Transport of the decision.

A report into the project from April said it had already cost the taxpayer £37.4m, and the cancellation of the project could take that up to £46.4m.

Chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, Lord Mervyn Davies, said:

It is with great regret that trustees have concluded that without mayoral support the project cannot be delivered.

We are incredibly sad that we have not been able to make the dream of the Garden Bridge a reality and that the mayor does not feel able to continue with the support he initially gave us.

We had made great progress obtaining planning permission, satisfying most of our planning conditions and we had raised £70m of private money towards the project.

It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects.

The charity said the controversial project will now be formally closed, including the termination of contracts and concluding donor funding agreements.

Image: The Garden Bridge Trust

In April, London mayor Sadiq Khan pulled the plug on support for the project after a report by the former chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Dame Margaret Hodge, said it was better value to write off the money already spent rather than continue with the project.

Khan said he had taken into account the recent report by Hodge, which highlighted escalating costs, a weak business case and "little regard" for value for money, and advised that the project should be scrapped.

Continuing with the project, would, he said, "expose the London taxpayer to additional financial risk". Hodge said the bridge was likely to cost more than £200m, while £37.4m of public funds had already been spent without any building work taking place.

And earlier this month, Khan told LBC £50m of taxpayers' money had already been spent.

Labour London Assembly member Tom Copley said:

It's a relief that the Trust have finally decided to stop flogging this dead horse.

Mayor Khan's decision to stop any further public money being wasted, once he saw the resounding evidence that this was a poor project, was very welcome. However, it is a scandal that the cheerleaders for the bridge were allowed to waste so much public money by his predecessor. Boris Johnson drove forward this vanity project during his mayoralty, and the lion's share of the blame for this whole debacle must fall at his feet.

There's no way back for those backing the Bridge, but it's a crying shame that so much has been lost in terms of vital public funds.

This article originally appeared on City A.M.

Last Updated 14 August 2017