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Garden Bridge should be scrapped, review by Margaret Hodge finds

‘Little regard has been had to value for money’ says damning report

14 April, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

The bridge between Temple and the South Bank ‘could cost over £200million’

A SCATHING new report says the Garden Bridge should be scrapped even though cancelling the project could cost taxpayers another £9million.

Dame Margaret Hodge MP, who chairs the public accounts committee appointed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to review the controversial bridge scheme, said it was better to cut the losses rather than continue with the plans.
Dame Margaret’s report said “little regard has been had to value for money” when decisions were made about the bridge – which would connect Temple with the Southbank – and which were driven instead “by electoral cycles”.

“I believe it is better for the taxpayer to accept the loss than to risk the additional demands 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,” the report said. “The original ambition to fund the Garden Bridge solely through private finance has been abandoned,” the report added.

The project has already cost the £37.4million of public money and the report said cancellation costs could bring the bill up to £46.4million, but that this was still a better deal than risking further costs by continuing with it. The project could end up costing “over £200million”.

Garden Bridge trustees, who are managing the plans, recently revealed in an accounts statement that they could not guarantee the project was a going concern.

But Lord Mervyn Davies, chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, said: “We are pleased that Dame Margaret has finally published her report after six months of uncertainty. We will be studying the report in detail and seeking a meeting with the mayor to discuss next steps. The trust remains as determined as ever to make the Garden Bridge happen which will bring huge benefits to London and the UK.”

Westminster Council recently called in a key decision about handing over land outside Temple station to the trust.
Council leader Nickie Aiken said: “No transfer of land will be possible until there is evidence the funding is in place to complete the bridge.”

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