London’s mayor has criticised Transport for London’s procurement process and said he is ‘very angry’ about the loss of millions of pounds after the £200 million Garden Bridge was officially scrapped
In a statement released by the Garden Bridge Trust this morning, the trust blamed the ‘lack of support’ from Khan on its decision to wind-up and terminate the Heatherwick-designed scheme.
As a result more than £46 million of public money which had already spent on preparatory work and design fees - including £2.6 million for designer Heatherwick Studio - has effectively been squandered on the unbuilt link across the Thames.
Responding to the news, Khan said: ‘Londoners will, like me, be very angry that London taxpayers have now lost tens of millions of pounds – committed by the previous mayor on a project that has amounted to nothing.
‘I have been clear since before I became mayor that no more London taxpayers’ money should be spent on this project and when I took office I gave the Garden Bridge Trust time to try and address the multiple serious issues with it.’
Khan added: ‘It’s my duty to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly. Following the very serious issues highlighted in Margaret Hodge’s independent review of the bridge – including a funding gap of over £70 million, potentially unlimited costs to London taxpayers to fund the bridge in the future, systemic failings in the procurement process and decisions not being driven by value for money – I could not permit a single penny more of London taxpayers’ money being spent on it.’
However, a spokesman for Khan’s predecessor Boris Johnson said: ’It is so sad that Sadiq Khan has killed off the Garden Bridge and wasted so much time and money.
’Labour has no vision for London and no ambition…the Garden Bridge was a beautiful project and could have been easily financed.
’The Labour Mayor claimed to support it but killed it out of spite because it was not initiated in his period of office.’
Hodge’s review, released in April, was heavily critical of the project’s procurement and value for money. It urged the mayor to cancel the Garden Bridge and accept that £46 million of public money had been lost, rather than press on with the scheme (see AJ 07.04.17).
Following the AJ’s long-running investigation into the scheme’s procurement by TfL, Hodge agreed that the appointments of Heatherwick Studio and engineer Arup in 2013 ‘were not open, fair or competitive … and revealed systematic failures and ineffective control systems at many levels’.
Meanwhile Labour MP for Vauxhall Kate Hoey and local councillors have called for the government to launch a full public inquiry into the project and to investigate the ‘accountability for the Garden Bridge Trustees in respect of lost taxpayers’ money’.
The group added: ’We look forward to holding those involved in wasting £50 million of public money to account. [We] never had any doubts that the Garden Bridge project would fail but we are disappointed that the project has been allowed to get this far, by the trustees, to the extent that £50 million of taxpayers money has been lost which could have been so much better spent.’
Ian Ritchie, founder of Ian Ritchie Architects
‘Mayor Khan has shown himself to be a prudent guardian of the public purse by refusing to throw good money after bad on a vanity project tainted from its inception. The clear message being sent out is that only open, fair and competitive tendering processes will be tolerated and that when it comes to the public purse, sanity and fiscal responsibility must be allied to imagination.
‘Now we can have some genuinely exciting, intelligent and innovative design for all – including new bridges in east London and new green spaces.’