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Michael Ball thanks you but Boris Johnson stitches us all up

Michael was in the process of writing a note of thanks (below) to TCOS supporters when this happened:


On Friday afternoon (5.6.15) Boris Johnson quietly slipped out a ‘guarantee’ for the GLA underwriting all of the maintenance costs of the Garden Bridge!

In so doing he has committed Londoners to a bill of up to £3.5m a year or over £90m over the lifetime of the bridge – on top of the £60m of public funds already committed.

This took us by surprise. It is obviously deeply questionable to sink up to £150m of public funds into a private bridge. We thought he would pause. It is equally questionable to display such largesse when the GLA are still waiting for answers on the pretence of a procurement process which was used to hire Heatherwick and the team after the event, some of whom were personal friends of the Mayor. The costs are so high precisely because this is a private vanity project which has avoided public standards of scrutiny.

It is also politically foolish of Boris to give this commitment given the frequent statements he has made that no more public funding will go into the Garden Bridge. He has mortgaged £90m of London’s future funding on the very day after George Osborne cut Transport for London’s funding by £31m.

The Mayor’s office didn’t make any kind of announcement or press statement about one of his most expensive days at the office – wonder why? Because he knows there will many more questions of his conduct.

We will be taking legal advice next week as to how we can challenge Boris’ decision in the High Court, as we promised when we withdrew the earlier case. In our view he is acting irrationally, since the rationale of his Business Case to support the bridge is that a private Garden Bridge is the best option because it is funded privately… but now it’s not, since more than £150m will come from the public sector, which dwarves the £65m of private pledges the Trust has cobbled together.

The Mayor pretends this guarantee won’t cost Londoners a penny – it won’t be called upon, he claims in his decision notice. But what business chief or philanthropist would be stupid enough to put money into a project which Boris has guaranteed to fully fund? His decision defies both logic and prudence.

We hope you will continue to support us as we take up the challenge against Boris in the courts and stop this wretched garden bridge.



Dear Friends

Things have tectonically shifted in the last few days on the Garden Bridge.

Firstly, a couple of months ago we applied to Lambeth Council to designate the grassed public open space where the bridge would land as an Asset of Community Value – and last week this was recognised and registered by the Council!.

This gives the community the right to bid for the site when a sub-lease is sought by the Garden Bridge Trust, and at minimum forces a 6 month delay on any sale. This seriously delays and potentially blocks the Garden Bridge Trust’s ability to buy the site from Coin Street Community Builders. Please see the letter attached below.

Secondly we believe we have the Trust and Boris in a legal headlock on the maintenance funding on the bridge: in a court order which has been agreed by Lambeth, the Garden Bridge Trust have to come up with £90m bond or a legal instrument or guarantee that will cover the £3.5m annual maintenance for the next 125 years, and they will not be allowed to build the bridge without it. Westminster Council asked for something similar last December, but Westminster could vary the terms. The agreement we have come to cannot be varied by the Council and the Trust will be in contempt of court if they attempt to build a bridge without fulfilling it.

What does this mean? The Garden Bridge Trust has not been able to raise significant additional private funds over the past year, and are still £50m short to build the bridge. It is extremely unlikely that they will be able to raise a further £90m to use as a bond for the ongoing maintenance, and their only realistic hope will be to persuade Boris Johnson as Mayor of London to underwrite the project. But it would be illogical and unreasonable for Boris to underwrite it, since the news that the public purse is going to pick up the tab will deter any further private donations – which would in turn undermine Boris’ very reason for supporting the bridge with public funding in the first place. If Boris attempts to make a decision to underwrite the bridge with public money we will launch a new legal challenge.

In order to get the Court Order in place I have agreed to stop the Judicial Review scheduled for next week in the High Court, and Lambeth Council has agreed to pay all of our costs – which means that we have a healthy fighting fund to launch a fresh legal challenge against it if necessary. It is disappointing not to have our day in court on this vanity project, but it was a difficult case to win, and had we lost we would not have achieved the Court Order which I believe will become an insurmountable hurdle for building a bridge, support for which is rapidly dwindling. Yesterday GLA members at City Hall passed a motion demanding Boris withdraw even the promise of £30m of capital funding which he has previously made – follow the link to yesterday’s BBC report: .

Our supporters are growing all the time – see the Observer article – following the very well attended public meeting last month – here is short trailer of the event We are also planning a number of other activities and events which will contribute to the termination of this vanity project – if you would like to be involved, please do contact me.

Finally, a very big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the funding for this challenge. We will be writing to everyone who has left a contact and, wherever possible we shall refund what we can making allowances for the non-refundable costs of the legal challenge – but I hope that many of you will allow us to keep it in reserve for any further action we may need to take over the coming months to ensure that the Garden Bridge is never built.

All the best

Michael Ball


We are dedicated to saving public space on the South Bank and over the River Thames. The controversial Garden Bridge is not needed here, it would destroy protected views and is democratically and environmentally damaging. Help us stop this now.




12/6/19 Garden Bridge failure should be likened to Kids Company scandal, MPs told

17/3/19 Minister: it’s ‘unfortunate’ we spent £43m on Garden Bridge

13/2/19 Garden bridge charity spent £53.5m with no construction, TfL finds

12/12/18 Garden Bridge Trust claims £5m of public money for wind-up costs

31/7/18 Garden Bridge backers 'may have breached legal duties'

31/7/18 Garden Bridge trustees may have ‘breached their legal duties’ says QC

01/03/18 Boris Johnson defends garden bridge plan that will cost public £46m

01/03/18 Boris Johnson blames Garden Bridge project blunders on successor

28/02/18 Boris Johnson could face investigation over Thames garden bridge

14/8/17 London's Garden Bridge project officially abandoned

14/8/17 London's Garden Bridge project scrapped

6/7/17 Soothing the Garden Bridge’s troubled waters

22/6/17 Standards commissioner examines complaint against Garden Bridge review

11/5/17 Good riddance to the Garden Bridge: an eye-watering waste of public funds by Walter Menteth

29/4/17 Lumley fights on for her fabulous bridge


28/4/17 The garden bridge is dead – now £37m of public money must be repaid


28/4/17 Garden Bridge: London mayor Sadiq Khan withdraws support


16/4/17 Garden bridge project is a landmark of the post-truth era

15/4/17 A garden bridge to nowhere

7/4/17 Garden Bridge should be scrapped, Hodge review finds


27/3/17 Garden Bridge could cost £22 million more than forecast

10/3/17 MP warns mayor over Garden Bridge’s cost to taxpayer


28/2/17 Garden Bridge Trust cleared of financial irregularities

23/2/17 Top criminal QC raises ‘serious concerns’ over Garden Bridge contest

9/2/17 London garden bridge case weaker now than in 2014, says Treasury official

8/2/17 Garden Bridge: all-party pressure on Sadiq not to sign guarantee

15/1/17 Let’s not be led any further up the garden bridge


11/01/17 London garden bridge project's future is in doubt, say trustees

5/01/17 "If 2016 was the Year of Bullshit, then the Garden Bridge could be its monument”

27/12/16 Garden bridge charity warns more delays could terminate project

16/12/16 MPs investigating Garden Bridge question need for scheme

14/12/16 Letter from PAC chair Meg Hillier to  Treasury Permanent Secretary

9/11/16 TCOS response to the GBT's misleading autumn newsletter

16/10/16 Controversial garden bridge to cost public total of £50m – even if it fails to go ahead

11/10/16 Mayor must refuse to sign the Garden Bridge maintenance guarantee: statement on NAO report

11/10/16 David Cameron 'ignored civil servants over Garden Bridge funding'

11/10/16 Department for Transport ignored official advice not to risk public money on Garden Bridge

22/9/16 London’s garden bridge would benefit only the rich

22/9/16 Dame Margaret Hodge MP to conduct review into Garden Bridge project

7/9/16 Garden Bridge Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons led by Kate Hoey MP

17/8/16 £22m gap in Garden Bridge funds - Newsnight investigation


5/8/16 Thames garden bridge delays raise risk of major boat collision – expert

29/7/16 Garden bridge charity delays publishing annual accounts for five months


25/7/16 Garden Bridge: Tough questions for £175m Thames project

24/7/16 HS2 and the garden bridge are vanity projects – it's not too late to scrap both

21/7/16 Garden bridge may need taxpayer bailout once built, report says

11/7/16 Sadiq Halts Work On Garden Bridge

30/6/16 National Audit Office investigates London garden bridge grant


19/5/16 London's garden bridge: visitors urged to donate on Thames crossing

21/4/16 Boris Johnson accused of misleading politicians over garden bridge


17/4/16 Why did Sadiq Khan change his mind over the Garden Bridge? He's fallen for the sunk costs fallacy

14/4/16 Council consultation row over Garden Bridge


5/4/16 Lambeth’s Garden Bridge decision to face scrutiny


1/4/16 Joanna Lumley proposes Thames ‘Allotment Ferry’


1/4/16 Giant Boris Gnome planned for Garden Bridge


24/3/16 Architects and critics in last-minute plea to stop Garden Bridge


21/3/16 The Garden Bridge project reeks of cronyism and improper process. And here are the other 25 problems with it


18/3/16 London's Boris Johnson 'chided' over Garden Bridge design contract


9/3/16 Toilets and terrorism: Lambeth approves Garden Bridge plans 


7/3/16:  Garden Bridge: London council allegedly threatened over Thames project - by Peter Walker


7/3/16 Taking the piss out on the Garden Bridge - by George Turner


6/3/16 Thames garden bridge faces last-ditch challenge from local politicians - by Peter Walker

3/3/16 Lambeth could take Garden Bridge decision behiind closed doors - by James Hatts


1/3/16 Caroline Pidgeon pledges total opposition to the Garden Bridge - by Caroline Pidgeon


February 2016 ‘Thames Garden Bridge Procurement issues’ Walter Menteth, Project Compass CIC.

24/2/16 "On Bullshit" & the Garden Bridge - by Dan Anderson


14/2/16 Garden bridge: a project promoted and sold with half‑truths, deceptions and evasions - by Rowan Moore.


14/2/16 You've had your fun - let's put the Garden Bridge to bed now - by Rachel Holdsworth


13/2/16 Why is London's Garden Bridge worth as much as five Lancashire museums? Ask Joanna Lumley - by Ian Jack


12/2/16 London's Garden Bridge is exposing the messy business of architecture competitions - by Diana Budds


10/2/16 London Green party call halt to privatisation of public space in London - by Sian Berry


10/2/16 Is it still possible to stop the Garden Bridge? - by Will Wiles.


9/2/16 Garden Bridge procurement statement from RIBA - Jane Duncan


31/1/16 Muddy Waters - Jobs for the boys - by Walter Menteth

29/1/16 The Garden Bridge subverts the lessons of history - by Dan Anderson


20/1/16 Boris Johnson evades Tom Copley AM's questions about the Garden Bridge


20/1/16 Londoners' money put at risk by the Garden Bridge  - by Will  Hurst


17/1/16 George Osborne under attack overGarden Bridge cash pledge - by Mark Townsend


21/11/15 Why we must stop Thomas Heatherwick's Garden Bridge - by Jack Wakefield


17 Sept 2015. GLA Oversight Committee Agenda Item 8, p71-72. Walter Menteth Report submission to the GLA Oversight Committee to inform their examination into the procurement of the design and technical services for the Thames Garden Bridge. Document review, analysis, report & response to GLA questions by Walter Menteth of Project Compass CIC as expert witness on behalf of industry. 34p.



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