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Garden Bridge: Margaret Hodge to probe project

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has appointed Dame Margaret Hodge to conduct a review of the controversial Garden Bridge project.

Dame Margaret Hodge
Dame Margaret Hodge

Before he was elected as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan promised an investigation into the procurement process for the Garden Bridge.

This week he announced that the review will be conducted by Dame Margaret Hodge MP, former chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

"I'm clear that since the beginning of the project there hasn't been the necessary standard of transparency and openness around the Garden Bridge," said Mr Khan.

"Nearly 40 million of public money has already been spent on the Garden Bridge project, and Londoners deserve far more information about the decisions that have been made around how their money is being spent.

"Margaret Hodge is hugely respected for her work scrutinising some of the UK's largest and most high-profile publicly funded bodies.

" There's no better qualified person to get to the bottom of the procurement process around the Garden Bridge, and establish whether Londoners have been getting value for money since the project began.

"I am absolutely clear that no new London taxpayers' funds should be committed to the Garden Bridge, but I'm also determined that the Garden Bridge review helps the project achieve higher standards of accountability and transparency it has so far been lacking."

Dame Margaret, whose report will be published in full, said: "I'm delighted to accept Sadiq's offer to look in detail at some of the key decisions made so far around the Garden Bridge.

"It's not a project that I have previously had an opinion on either for or against, but given the millions of pounds of public money allocated to the project, it is clear that there needs to be far more transparency around how funds are being spent.

"The planned bridge is a major project in an iconic part of London, and there are clearly questions that remain unanswered around issues like procurement.

"From his first day in office Sadiq has been relentless in his drive to ensure Londoners get value for money, both around the Garden Bridge and other areas of major spending.

"I look forward to presenting the findings of the review, and assessing the lessons we can learn for other major projects in our city."

Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon AM said: "I welcome this latest review into the Garden Bridge which I hope will pick up from the excellent inquiry undertaken by the London Assembly. However the Mayor cannot hide behind this latest review as an excuse for not taking any action.

"Although it was not his decision to start this project he increasingly makes excuses and apologies for the mess first started by Boris Johnson.

"It is time Sadiq Khan finally said he will not underwrite any taxpayer funded bailouts for the maintenance of this project.

"His current stance of providing a permanent taxpayer bailout to pay for the maintenance of the bridge while claiming to never provide any further public funding for the project is utter nonsense and indefensible."

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