Thames garden bridge ‘A waste of money’
A report released this week has concluded that The Thames garden bridge project should arguably be scrapped now, rather than risk losing more public cash.
The project which was initially proposed by ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson was set to be financed privately and run by charities. The charities were seeking private investment from wealthy backers and local business, but have so far struggled to meet the funding required to finance it.
The report released by Margaret Hodge, senior Labour MP, has concluded in highly scathing terms that the project was conceived mainly from political ambitions rather than as a representation of value for taxpayers money, and has more or less urged current London Mayor Sadiq Khan to scrap any future funding pledges from City Hall.
The objectives of the bridge, (a walkway covered with greenery and wildlife spanning the width of the Thames) haven’t been immediately clear to those conducting the report it said. Hodge’s report also highlights multiple failings from the start, arguing that the business case for the bridge, run by a charity reliant on corporate donations, was always weak.
The tendering process was “not open, fair or competitive”, Hodge found. “Decisions on the garden bridge were driven by electoral cycles rather than value for money,” she said of the project as reported in The Guardian. It begun under Boris Johnson when he was London mayor. Johnson declined several requests to speak to Hodge for the report, she said.
“From its inception, when there was confusion as to its purpose, through a weak business case that was constructed after contracts had been let and money had been spent, little regard has been tendered towards value for money.”
The costs to the taxpayer of a link originally intended to be built solely from private donations had increased numerous times, Hodge said. “What started life as a project costing an estimated £60m is likely to end up costing more than £200m,” she wrote.
After the scathing summary of the bridge’s future, it is now unclear whether the project has a future and it is still no closer to filling its £70 million funding gap. Hodge was quick to point out that she was not recommending the scheme be scrapped all together as she had not been asked to assess whether the bridge was a good idea in itself, rather whether it was good value for money.
For now, it seems, the idea has been put on ice.
Photograph: Heatherwick Studio/PA