Transport secretary Chris Grayling has agreed to extend financial guarantee up to level of £9million after Garden Bridge Trust requested one totalling £15million
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has agreed to extend a financial guarantee for the £185m Garden Bridge but has capped the amount and warned the project will receive no further support from the taxpayer.
An agreement by the Department for Transport (DfT) to underwrite the Thomas Heatherwick-designed scheme to the tune of £15 million was due to run out next month and in July, Garden Bridge Trust chairman Lord Davies of Abersoch wrote to Grayling asking for a year’s extension.
Grayling has agreed to extend the arrangement for ‘as long as it takes’ the AJ understands but only to cover cancellation liabilities of £9m, believed to be the amount required as of next month by the trust.
Earlier this month, the trust admitted it still needed £55.9 million to meet its fundraising total, having raised just over £69 million of private funding between 2013 and June this year.
Speaking on Grayling’s behalf, transport minister Lord Ahmad said: ‘The Government wishes the exciting and innovative Garden Bridge project every success and has provided public funding to help get it off the ground.
‘We have extended our agreement to underwrite cancellation costs but capped at the current level of £9 million.
‘The taxpayer must not be exposed to any further risk and it is now for the Trust to find private sector backers to invest in the delivery of this iconic project.’
The AJ understands that Lord Davies and trust chief executive Bea Emmott plus board member John Heaps met with Grayling over the summer and that Emmott had several further meetings with DfT officials.
Several critics of the Garden Bridge including London Assembly member Tom Copley, architect Walter Menteth, consultant Dan Anderson, campaigner Will Jennings and local resident Michael Ball of Thames Central Open Spaces (TCOS) also wrote to Grayling expressing their objections to the project.
A spokesperson for the Garden Bridge Trust said: ‘The Government has made it clear it wishes to continue to support the ‘exciting and innovative’ Garden Bridge and has agreed to extend a large part of its underwriting agreement.
‘The Garden Bridge Trustees have agreed to explore any further underwriting required and are currently working with new private sector sources to build on the current support.’