London Assembly to call for Mayor not to sign Garden Bridge guarantee

8 Feb 2017

 

Judging by the Evening Standard and ITV's most recent polls of several thousand people, up to 71% of Londoners would support London Assembly members Tom Copley and Florence Eshalomi's motion to the Mayor today, urging him not to sign a guarantee to underwrite the estimated £3m annual running costs of the Garden Bridge. A few reasons include:

• The Garden Bridge Trust’s (GBT) own Business Plan, which is unbalanced and unrealistic (with 70% of income coming from voluntary sources, for example) with a high fixed cost base, and reveals that even on the most optimistic assumptions the project will be in deficit once the loan repayments to TfL kick in after 5 years. With a more realistic scenario consultant Dan Anderson has shown that they would need to call on between £500,000 and £1m annually from the Mayor’s guarantee

• The problem of ‘moral hazard’ – that once the Mayor has guaranteed underwriting the running costs there is a disincentive for people or institutions to contribute voluntarily which will increase over time, putting 70% of the GBT’s income in jeopardy and forcing them to call on the guarantee

• The TfL Business Case provides a rationale for contributing £60m of public funds to the project, in order to secure a much greater amount (£125m) of private funding; a guarantee would put further public funds at risk to the point that it threatens to overtake the amount of private funding, thereby undermining the rationale for putting public funds in in the first place! This would be prima facie an unreasonable or irrational decision by the Mayor, and on such a basis could be legally challengeable.

• TfL did not commission even a rudimentary business plan to even consider the running costs of this project when first providing disastrously uncritical support and resource from 2012, with a first ropey draft only appearing in 2014, by which time TfL had spent £10m and committed £60m of public funds to the project. This is one reason why the wonkiness of the original procurement of the project is so important, with huge mistakes made at an early stage which we are now being asked to pay for or underwrite

• TfL have never commissioned an independent review of the GBT Business Plan – the minimum any potential underwriter would normally do in such circumstances.

The project is now two years behind schedule and with a host of problems including:

• a funding gap of £55m (which appears to be widening with £20m of pledges falling away last summer), and threatening to begin construction without all of the funds in place, and potentially relying on the state stepping in if the funding gap is not closed

• without a land interest on either side of the river after two years of negotiations, and with the GBT currently requesting Westminster Council to use its CPO and other powers to over-ride the threat of injunctions by adjacent residents and landowners with covenants and rights-to-light issues; Westminster Council’s Scrutiny Committee last month asked for greater safeguards, including, incredibly, a guarantee that they will be recompensed for all costs, something which the GBT themselves are unable to provide

• Without an implementable planning permission (since no s106 can be signed without the land interests secured), and which itself runs out towards the end of 2017

• Rising costs as yet unquantified by the GBT, mainly due to the numerous delays which are the result of the lack of proper planning by TfL in 2012-14, and for which the GBT now needs to take responsibility

We hope the mayor has the good sense to listen to his fellow Labour party members who have cross-party support on this motion throughout the London Assembly.

 

UPDATE: Assembly members voted 16:1 in favour of the motion that the mayor should not sign a public guarnatee for the Garden Bridge. The mayor does not have to abide by this decision but it would not look good if he ignored cross-party opposition with such a clear majority view. Details found here http://www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/9068

 

 

 

Watch the debate here from around 2hrs 23min: https://www.london.gov.uk/assembly-plenary-2017-02-08

 

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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.