There are still many hurdles for the Garden Bridge Trust to overcome; these include many planning conditions that need to be discharged, a £30m shortfall in private funding, the ongoing investigations about the dodgy procurement processes, the mayor’s alleged ‘malfeasance in public office’ and a general lack of public support. Joanna Lumley’s latest clanger can be found in the following link where she announces that “Tremendously kind and rich people to give a garden to people who maybe never had a garden” Quite possibly the most condescending thing she has uttered…in the past few weeks anyway http://thepipeline.info/blog/2015/12/05/opinion-let-them-have-a-garden-bridge-says-joanna-lumley/
In the midst of this, Lambeth council’s leader Lib Peck is crowing about reducing the public liability for the £175m private Garden Bridge by £20m in the form of a ‘loan’ but this is a complete falsehood. Details of the sham ‘loan’ for the Garden Bridge Trust from TfL can be found here. The highlights are as follows:
1. The money will be transferred as two loans of £10M each, 7 months and 19 months from awarding the construction contract
2. The loans will only be made if TfL can be satisfied of a number of things, including that the Trust is likely to raise enough money to cover construction costs and five years maintenance and that all planning consents are granted. [Section 4]
3. The loans are not secured against the bridge or anything else.
4. The money may only be used to pay for construction, not maintenance, fund raising, marketing etc.
5. No payments need to be made until five years after the bridge opens
6. The loans run for fifty years after this. So, rather than being a fifty year loan as has previously been claimed, it’s more like 56 years
7. Each year, the outstanding balance of the loans will increase by RPI or 2%, whichever is less. That is, the maximum interest rate on the loan is 2%.
8. Each year from the fifth anniversary of opening, the Trust must make a payment of at least £250,000. Note that only doing this for fifty years will leave shortfall of £7.5M in today’s money.
In summary, it’s an unsecured very long-term business loan at a heavily subsidised interest rate. If the Greater London Authority thinks this is a good deal, I’m sure there are lots of housing associations who would love to borrow under similar conditions.
Meanwhile, write to Lib Peck and tell her your concerns about the bridge; the destruction of protected views; the overcrowding on the South Bank; the wrong location of the bridge; over £60m plus £150m (for the ongoing costs guarantee) of public money given to a private conglomerate of multi-millionaires for an unwanted private folly. email@example.com