London’s mayor has slammed Boris Johnson’s handling of the Garden Bridge, adding he will not be building ‘vanity projects’ in the capital
Speaking at a launch event for his draft Housing Strategy yesterday [6 September], Sadiq Khan hit out at the ’shoddy’ way his predecessor had handled the £200 million Heatherwick-designed project which was finally abandoned last month (see AJ 14.08.17).
Khan, who referred to the conclusions of Margaret Hodge’s report into the controversial scheme, said that the procurement process at the Greater London Authority ‘had completely changed’ and been made more rigorous.
‘What’s quite clear to me is the report from Margaret Hodge demonstrated some of the massive flaws in the procurement process, some of the corners cut by the previous mayor [and], as a consequence, some of the considerable sums of taxpayers’ money lost both from GLA funding but also from central government,’ he said.
’There were other reviews before I became mayor. It’s an example of the shoddy way the previous administration conducted matters – we’re learning the lessons from that. The TfL board has changed completely. The way we procure things has changed completely and you won’t see any vanity projects from me – or corners cut from me.’
Asked whether there will be further inquiries over the near-£50 million of public money lost to the Garden Bridge, the mayor responded: ’That’s one of the things for the Public Accounts Committee and those in parliament have got to look into, because, obviously, central government money as well as London taxation money was spent.
’My understanding is that the money was spent by the Garden Bridge Trust and it is for the Garden Bridge Trust to answer the many, many questions that not just AJ but others are asking as well.’
Also at the event, Khan outlined his plans to earmark £250 million to buy and prepare land specifically for affordable homes, adding that he would be enforcing Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to acquire the sites needed.
He said: ‘I’m going to use CPOs where I can, where I need to, to make sure we can assemble land in a way that frees up other pieces of land as well. One of the frustrations developers, councils and Housing Associations say to me is that there is land next door they wish they could CPO, which would increase the potential of us building more homes and genuinely affordable homes.’
Khan added: ‘I’m also lobbying the government to make it easier to use CPOs.’