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Who got what? How was £53m squandered on the doomed Garden Bridge?

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A fascinating never-before-seen document, spelling out exactly how £53 million was wasted on the unbuilt Garden Bridge, has been released by Transport for London (TfL) 

According to the in-depth report, Thomas Heatherwick and his studio pocketed a total of £2.76 million including VAT, for design work on the £200 million crossing before it was canned in August 2017.

Landscape designer Dan Pearson was paid £303,000 for his time on the planting for the crossing which would have spanned from Temple Station on the north bank to Queen’s Walk on the south.

However one of the largest beneficiaries of the squandered cash – around 80 per cent of which came from the taxpayer – was Arup, which netted a whopping £12.7 million in fees during the scheme’s lifetime.

Controversially, a massive chunk of the cash – an eye-watering £21.4 million – was handed to contractors Bouygues Travaux Publics and Cimolai SpA, the joint venture (JV) that secured the tender to deliver the job. Of that £2.1 million amounted to the ‘costs suffered by the JV and charged to the Garden Bridge Trust for the demobilisation of staff, offices and repatriation of plant and labour’ after the contract was suspended.

Questions have been asked about whether the contractors should ever have been appointed given the doubts over elements of the project at that stage. 

Other revelations in the detailed breakdown include how the Garden Bridge Trust spent £148,000 on visualisations for fundraising, £418,000 on a gala event held in Battersea to find potential donors, and £2.3 million on legal costs.

A huge £1.3 million was spent on marine geotechnical surveys which involved the sinking of dozens of boreholes in the River Thames and the ‘careful search for unexploded ordnance’.

The trust’s various executives took home £1.7 million in salaries during its existence.

The document also shows a major payment of £425,000 to cover the costs of ITV, which had been worried about the possible noise and disruption of construction works close to its Good Morning Britain studio and £235,000 to landowner Coin Street Builders – mainly to reimburse it for its legal expenses.

Meanwhile CABE received £3,500 for its design review services.

The report emerged as TfL decided to hand over a final payment of £5.5 million to the charity behind the aborted project. 

You can see the full cost breakdown here


Readers' comments (9)

  • Could this be the 'gravy train' par excellence?
    It surely leaves the question of whether TfL might have been flinging public money at other dubious enterprises over the years - to say nothing of the antics of apparently teflon coated politicians, the power of patronage and cronyism, and the unhealthy infestation of 'revolving doors'.

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  • Money wasted because there was no built outcome. Pitiful for a city claiming to be open for business, and a very sad example of a Mayor who reneged on his support for the project for the very worst sort of short-term
    political advantage.

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  • Paul is right; only 'wasted' because not built. Great shame.

    And shame on Richard Waite for so much superlative-laden synthetic indignation worthy of the Daily Mail. Meanwhile the pointless, joyless HS2, and sundry weird and unnecessary towers in deserts, move inexorably on. No hope for the planet now...

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  • Scandalous, profligate squandering of public money!

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  • The project has divided opinion. For me, the sunk costs look like value compared to what it would have cost to realise the joyless, sundry, weird and unnecessary thing.

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  • the city can be open for business and be closed to exploitation Mr Finch. I will happily do a compare and contrast on progress and costs of another bridge across the Thames and would be interested in anyone trying t justify the garden bridge figures now exposed. The Diamond Jubilee bridge website. less than £500 and no cost to public compared to over £160,000 of public money in the GB case for example.....In each instance costs are any multiples of what would be considered competitive and given that the contract signed was D&B I would expect that a lot of that 'construction cost' has gone to the designers who were probably novated - worth taking a look at.

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  • Chris - no need to do much guessing, the history of the projected has been thoroughly documented in these pages by Will Hurst, to the extent that the Hon (?) Boris Johnson felt it necessary to try and trash him and the AJ under close questioning by the London Assembly's Oversight Committee (while claiming memory loss when asked to account for his own decisions)

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  • £418,000 on a Gala Dinner to find donors eh?

    I wonder how many donors signed up as a result of this event and how much they collectively offered to donate?

    One only hopes that, for £418,000, everyone got right sozzled on expensive Champagne!..........

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  • Sean, the document says, Fundraising costs - Inaugural Gala Event £417,949 -
    This event was a major fundraising event held in Battersea which raised £791k of direct income but also served the purpose of introducing
    new donors to the charity who would be able to support in additional ways following the event.

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