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London Assembly announces fresh Garden Bridge probe

Garden bridge underbridge viewp
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Thomas Heatherwick’s scrapped £200 million crossing, championed by former London mayor Boris Johnson, is to face fresh scrutiny from politicians following the hard-fought release of the Garden Bridge Trust’s meeting records

The Greater London Authority’s (GLA) oversight committee at City Hall this morning (Thursday 15 November) confirmed the establishment of a cross-party working group to further examine key Garden Bridge decisions by the trust and Transport for London (TfL).

The working group will be chaired by Labour London Assembly member Tom Copley, a persistent critic of the unbuilt bridge and the estimated £46 million of public money that was spent on it.

Copley proposed the new working group partly due to the string of revelations in the minutes of the trust’s board meetings reported by the AJ, disclosures which have also prompted numerous calls for a Parliamentary inquiry.

He said: ‘One of the key issues we want the working group to consider relates to what the TfL officers … who were party to the information in the minutes … were saying to those higher up at TfL, because it is clear that things didn’t seem to be going particularly well and yet large sums of public money were still being handed over.

‘We also want to look at the role of the Charity Commission, which ultimately is the [trust’s] regulator, and any additional issues regarding contracts.

‘TfL is currently considering whether to release further taxpayer money – £9 million worth – which the trust claims that it is entitled to, so I think it’s still very much a matter that warrants the assembly’s scrutiny.’

The working group’s other members will be Len Duvall (Labour), Peter Whittle (UKIP), Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) and Siân Berry (Green).

While the oversight committee is chaired by Conservative member Gareth Bacon, the Conservatives have declined to participate in the working group.

In this week’s New Statesman, the AJ’s investigation into the Garden Bridge was highlighted in a scathing attack on Boris Johnson’s leadership credentials by former Times foreign editor Martin Fletcher.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • The reasons for the Garden Bridge Trust's reluctance to let their meeting records see the light of day are becoming clearer - and as for TfL, the staff (and some ex-staff) have some hard questions to answer, as well as deciding whether to tell the Mayor they need to fork out another £9m to the benefit of the Trust rather than that of Londoners (or anyone else save the trust's assorted consultants, contractors and cronies).
    Martin Fletcher's New Statesman article should be prescribed reading for all architects and politicians - and the substantial chunk of the populace that still thinks Boris is wonderful, rather than largely responsible for the black hole threatening the survival of the government and the stability and well-being of this country.

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  • Phil Parker

    The garden bridge fiasco highlights something importnant: how unaccountable politicians are when they hold public office.

    There should be a public scrutiny committee with powers.

    Boris Johnson should be banned from holding public office again.

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  • Phil: Boris Johnson is the Horatio Bottomley of our time, and the fact that he's still politically 'alive and kicking' calls into question the integrity of the Conservative Party in every sense.

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