London SE1 website team

Garden Bridge: bill for taxpayers could have topped 100m - Hodge

If Sadiq Khan hadn't pulled the plug on City Hall's support for the Garden Bridge, the cost to the public purse could have exceeded £100 million, according to Dame Margaret Hodge MP.

Dame Margaret Hodge
Dame Margaret Hodge

Dame Margaret Hodge MP appeared before the London Assembly's GLA Oversight Committee at City Hall on Wednesday to defend her report on the Garden Bridge.

Asked to sum up the findings of her report, Dame Margaret highlighted a "lack of clarity about the purpose" of the bridge, a "lack of transparency" and a "total lack of regard for due process".

She also emphasised the failure of the bridge's promoters to win support from local people and organisations.

"It was supposed to be the 'people's bridge', but I'm not sure which people it served," said Dame Margaret.

The Barking MP said that the Garden Bridge Trust's fundraising plans did not stand up to scrutiny: "I simply couldn't believe that they would be able to raise the money for the management and maintenance," she told AMs.

Dame Margaret told the committee that, in her view, the bridge would have cost taxpayers at least 100 million if it were to be built, with the total cost spiraling to more than 200 million.

As it stands, the estimated cost to the public of the development and closure of the project is 46 million.

Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown told the committee that TfL was waiting to hear from the Garden Bridge Trust how much money it might be able to repay to the public purse.

Mr Brown was also asked by Green AM Sian Berry to reconcile his December 2015 claim that the Garden Bridge had "a very valid, legitimate transport imperative" with his remark a year later that "from a TfL perspective it's not overtly a transport imperative" that would not be among his top 100 transport priorities for the capital.

The TfL boss was clear that the organisation had learnt lessons from the handling of the bridge's funding and governance. "I would not want to enter into this sort of arrangement ever again," he said.

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