Plans for a controversial Garden Bridge over the Thames are a drain on the taxpayer and should be scrapped, according to a review commissioned by Sadiq Khan. Dame Margaret Hodge MP’s damning report was made public last week, and suggests decisions on the bridge were influenced by political manoeuvring during electoral cycles.
Costs have escalated from an early estimate of £60million to more than £200m, leaving the public and politicians at odds over whether to continue with the project. “I did not seek to ask whether the concept of a garden bridge over the River Thames is a good idea; but my review has found that too many things went wrong in the development and implementation of the Garden Bridge Project,” explained Dame Hodge, who said the risk to the taxpayer had “intensified”.
“It would be better for the taxpayer to accept the financial loss of cancelling the project than to risk the potential uncertain additional costs to the public purse if the project proceeds. “In the present climate, with continuing pressures on public spending, it is difficult to justify further public investment in the Garden Bridge.”
She even went as far as to suggest that the Mayor pull the plug himself, at least until private capital had been secured to fund the structure.
However, chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust (which manages the project), Lord Mervyn Davies, has launched a stinging attack on the report, claiming Dame Hodge has shown “disregard for the facts” and been “selective in her use of evidence to support her own opinions”.
In an open letter he wrote: “The trustees’ focus remains on the future of the bridge, and the great benefits it will bring to Londoners and visitors alike. That future is now in the hands of the Mayor. “Our message to him is that this report, with its many errors and ill-informed opinions, is no basis upon which to take decisions about a project that has been through the complex democratic processes by which decisions on development are made in this city.”