In an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Garden Bridge Trust chairman Mervyn Davies criticised Margaret Hodge MP’s report into the Garden Bridge’s procurement as ‘full of errors’ and ‘very one-sided’
Last week Hodge published her report on the controversial bridge’s procurement last week, concluding that London mayor Sadiq Khan should cancel the project and accept that £46 million of public money had been lost.
When asked by presenter John Humphreys for his views on the report, Davies said: ‘I don’t agree with it. I take issue with a number of facts,’ adding that it was based on a ‘selective use of evidence’.
‘It’s a very one-sided report, it’s full of errors,’ he said. But when pressed by Humphreys to specify the errors, Davies failed to come up with a clear answer.
When asked where the money is coming from to pay for the project, Davies denied it would be coming from the taxpayer. The £185 million project, which could rise to £200 million, has received £30 million from Transport for London and £30 million from government.
Davies insisted that the Garden Bridge Trust would be able to raise the rest of the money via ‘philanthropists and corporates’, and that £70 million had been pledged. ‘We are highly confident we can raise the money,’ he said.
He revealed that the trust put fundraising on hold while Hodge was undertaking her review, ‘which took longer than expected’, according to Davies. Khan commissioned the review in September.
After Humphreys pointed out that no new pledges had been received since August, Davies insisted that the trust had a pipeline of donors who would be willing to commit funds now the review has been published.
As the AJ reported yesterday, the trust is soon to enter into discussions with the mayor of London on the mayoral guarantee. Khan has yet to decide whether TfL should commit to underwriting the maintenance costs of the bridge.
At the end of the interview, Davies said: ‘We are determined to make [The Garden Bridge] happen. It is a wonderful gift from philanthropists and corporates to London. I look forward to walking across the bridge. It will be a magical gift to the nation.’
Mervyn Davies is chairman of Corsair Capital, a private equity firm specialising in financial services. He was minister for trade, investment, small business and infrastructure from 2009 to 2010.