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Headline

Former TfL boss points finger at Johnson over Garden Bridge contest

Comment

3 further points I would like to make, the first is simple, the second and third are not. 1 - The seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. How many of these has our potential PM shown during this debacle? 2 - TfL have published the funding agreement between them and the GBT online. Pages 39 & 40 make interesting reading. TfL were given authority over a total of £60m (including a grant from the DfT authorised by George Osborne directly as Chancellor). There were conditions to be met at various stages prior to a fixed amount of money being handed over. The largest single payment was handed over once the GBT signed the construction contract - £16,500,000. It is now known that the GBT were not in a good financial position at this time and the effect of that was for them to ask for further money from TfL and Dft during the mayoral election Purdah period which Johnson did give them. To boot, the GBT signed a construction contract that committed them (us as it turned out through underwriting by the DfT) to cancellation costs of potentially over £7,000,000. And they did this at a time when they had no legal rights in place to start work or even access the land. I am happy to be proven wrong here but all this can be read from public information. Interestingly they also signed this contract at a time when Sadiq Kahn (the then front runner to become the next mayor) had publically said he would scrap the bridge. Conjecture maybe but it appears that the GBT have calculated the risk to the projects progression is greater if they don't sign the contract early than the risk of the cancellation costs (which would not be paid by them anyway). At best this shows a lack of care for public money, at worst the application to TfL for the £16.5m payment was potentially deliberately fraudulent (i.e not all the conditions of the funding agreement had been met) and TfL under instruction from Boris Johnson potentially released the money without proper oversight or the correct checks and balances. 3 - TfL have also issued a list of public funding payments to the GBT. TfL have granted a total of £23.92m whereas from the original £30 dfT grant £13.45m has been given. £20m of the TfL's £30m is reported in the same document as a loan (50 year repayment). This was Sadiq Kahns and Lib Pecks success in achieving slightly better value for money for the public and was well publicised in 2015 etc. However, in Dame Hodges interview with TfL's internal solicitors they admit that there the loan account is 'empty'. How is this so. The maths don't add up - even if we are kind and say the first £10m is free, then the TfL loan account should read -£13.92m. That's nearly £14m of public money that should have been loaned rather than granted but apparently has not. Why is this important - well because the trustees (or their insurers) would still be responsible for the repayment of that loan back to the public purse. Either there is some slight of hand accountancy going on here or the terms of the loan were so overly friendly that the funds didn't become a loan until completion or similar - either way, again, its more evidence that behind this whole shoddy affair someone is being very fast and loose with vast amounts of public transport money. now I'm done and have nothing left to say on the matter - I'm off to build a real bridge....

Posted date

3 October, 2017

Posted time

11:46 am

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