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Failed Garden Bridge project cost taxpayers £43 million

London SE1 website team

A further £5 million of public money will be paid to the Garden Bridge Trust to meet the failed charity's winding-up costs, including reimbursing some of the donors to the controversial Thames footbridge project.

Failed Garden Bridge project cost taxpayers £43 million
As Mayor, Boris Johnson gave political backing to the bridge scheme devised by Joanna Lumley

We reported in December that the Garden Bridge Trust was claiming £5 million under arrangements set up by the Government to underwrite the project.

This week, Transport for London – which under the joint funding arrangements for the scheme with central Government is responsible for administering the Whitehall cash in this case – concluded that the money should be paid out.

TfL published a note on its website saying: "We concluded in February 2019 that an initial DfT-funded payment of £5 million was legally required, with further expected contingency of up to £500,000."

TfL has also published extensive further correspondence with the Garden Bridge Trust and its donors.

These documents reveal that business publishing firm Bloomberg topped the list of Garden Bridge donors seeking refunds. Bloomberg is owned £2.2 million including interest.

The £5 million payout will help to meet claims including £3,200 to the winner of a Garden Bridge auction prize who didn't receive their promised game of "table tennis with Boris [Johnson]".

One donor – Michael Gross – on learning that the bridge had been cancelled, wrote: "This is the most bogus and irresponsible shambles I have ever had the misfortune to get involved in."

The latest announcement means that the final cost to the public purse of the unbuilt Garden Bridge will be around £43 million – split between £24 million from TfL and £19 million from central Government.

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