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Charities Commission warns Garden Bridge Trust over failing to file accounts

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The Garden Bridge Trust has been warned it could face ‘regulatory action’ from the Charities Commission after missing the deadline to file its 2017 accounts 

The trust is under intense scrutiny as it attempts to wind up its operations after spending almost £50 million of public money on the cancelled and unbuilt Garden Bridge. It had been due to file end-of-year accounts on 31 January.

The charity is also still refusing to comply with repeated requests from its public-sector sponsor Transport for London (TfL) for records of its meetings, despite demands from the organisation’s legal team, the AJ understands.

A spokesperson for the Charities Commission said: ‘The Garden Bridge Trust, which is in the process of winding up, has informed us it will be late filing its accounts for the financial year 2017.

‘Filing accounts is a legal requirement for all registered charities and the commission will consider regulatory action if the delay is significant.

‘The public rightly expects charities to be transparent about their financial activity, so filing on time is key to running a charity properly.’

Responding to the latest news, London mayor Sadiq Khan once again hit out at the trust, saying that Londoners deserved ‘full transparency’.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: ‘That is why he commissioned Dame Margaret Hodge’s independent review of the project, and why TfL’s legal team continues to seek access to the minutes from the Garden Bridge Trust board meetings.

‘He remains angry that London taxpayers have lost millions of pounds on a project, backed by the previous mayor, that has amounted to nothing.’

Khan’s stance was backed by Labour MP for Vauxhall Kate Hoey, a persistent critic of the project.

‘It is concerning that the Garden Bridge Trust has failed to file accounts,’ she said. ‘I am pleased that the Charity Commission has now said that they will hold the trust to account.

‘The trust has up to now managed to avoid any transparency and this must be rectified so that the public know the truth about its accounts and its abortive attempt to build a bridge.’

When the scheme was finally shelved last summer, the budget for the Thomas Heatherwick-designed crossing was estimated to be more than £200 million. 

The Garden Bridge Trust was unavailable for comment.

Image: John Hill

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