(Picture courtesy of Architect's Journal)
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, must finally stop dithering and scrap the sinking vanity project known as the Garden Bridge, following Dame Margaret Hodge’s damning report into value for money, say campaigners and politicians from all parties.
Last September Sadiq commissioned Hodge – a former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee – to undertake a comprehensive review of the Garden Bridge project. Her report, published today, is uncompromising in its criticism of the project, from initial procurement and financial control, to its purpose and deliverability, as well as the officials and politicians who greenlighted it. Apart from not committing any further public funds, Hodge gives a series of recommendations which highlight the need for a root and branch review of TfL, the UK’s highest-spending public authority.
As Mayor, Sadiq has already paid out £10m of public money from TfL’s coffers, honouring commitments made by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor and pushing his pet project. TfL are due to hand over another £10m in the next few months, and the Mayor is required to underwrite the project’s £3m annual running costs.
Hodge’s report makes clear that this would only throw good money after bad, with little prospect of the project making up the £70m funding gap with donations.
Our chairman Michael Ball said
“Sadiq commissioned Hodge to undertake a comprehensive review of the project, and he can’t ignore its withering conclusions. This is a Micky Mouse project costing the public £40m so far. Sadiq must withdraw support before another penny is wasted.
“The wheels on this bus have been falling off for Londoners as the true cost has emerged and the shenanigans of its procurement were gradually exposed. It’s time Sadiq represented the people who elected him and protected their pockets from being picked further.
“It is depressing that Boris Johnson succumbed to soft lobbying and didn’t see the need to follow procurement law and TfL policy.
“But it is a scandal that the then TfL Commissioner Peter Hendy was paid £650,000 a year yet failed in his basic duty of protecting the public purse from pie-in-the-sky projects costing millions. Hodge reports that Hendy believed Mayoral Directions trumped all other considerations, including European and British law – and yet no Mayoral Direction was issued until all the key decisions had been taken and the project procured.”
Read the full Hodge Review here https://www.london.gov.uk/independent-review-garden-bridge-project