Garden Bridge Licence Revoked - so why are the Garden Bridge Trust still continuing?

7 Jul 2017

 

Lambeth news website London SE1 (www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/9313) has unearthed the fact that London Mayor Sadiq Khan, has gone a lot further than he announced in April regarding the Garden Bridge. At that time, the Mayor simply stated that he wouldn't sign the guarantees underwriting the £3m annual running costs, which are a requirement both of the planning permission and of the High Court agreement entered into with TCOS chair Michael Ball following the launch of his judicial review in 2015.

 

But we have now learnt that in May, the Mayor in fact issued a full revocation of all the Mayoral Decisions (instructions issued by the Mayor to his staff at Transport for London or the Greater London Authority/GLA) signed off by Boris Johnson when Mayor, going right back to 2013 when the project started.  They include:

 

* MD1248 of April 2013, which established the Mayor’s strategic support for the project, and delegated to senior officers at TfL and the GLA powers to use its statutory powers and functions to develop strategies to deliver the project, including “establishing a clear policy statement of the need for a crossing of the Thames in this area”, procuring the land and necessary consents, identify funding and “making budgetary provision” from TfL coffers for these works.

 

* MD1355 of June 2014 which instructed officers to provide £30m of TfL money towards the £100m+ costs of construction and to “do anything that it [sic] necessary or expedient or that is conducive or ancillary to the above activities” of delivering a Garden Bridge, including bearing the financial risk “that suitable third party funding for the construction, maintenance and operations of the bridge will not be secured by GBT” which was limited to £16m. (The bridge cost is currently "in excess of £200m").

 

* MD1472 of June 2015 which instructed officers to negotiate and agree the terms of guarantees underwriting the operational costs of running the bridge after construction.

This means that at one (quiet) stroke Sadiq has demolished the entire strategic and legal framework which would be required to build a bridge across the Thames – going a lot further than his public pronouncement that he wouldn’t underwrite the project because it wasn’t value for money.

 

While that framework was still in place, our fear was that if (in some Alice in Wonderland way) the Sheik of Araby deposited a large amount of money, or offered to underwrite the project, or even if the government proposed to directly underwrite the project (perhaps following a coup by Boris!), this would automatically trigger resuscitation of the project. We have also been concerned that any on-going Mayoral instructions (from the last Mayor) to provide strategic support would encourage processes to continue, such as negotiations on the use of Temple Station roof for the landing of the bridge.

 

Since Sadiq has revoked the Mayoral Decisions, this framework is no longer in place, so that, for example, Mayoral strategic support of the transport case is no longer there. The most practical impact is that all negotiations over the use of Temple Station roof should be off, and TfL will be acting (when making repairs, for example) in the expectation that the project won’t be happening. Therefore, in the unlikely chance that there is a windfall from a Sheik or a successful Boris coup or whatever, the project would not automatically be resuscitated, and the Mayor would have to go through a formal legal process of supporting the project again, which itself would take time and would be challengeable both within the GLA and at the High Court. 

 

The Garden Bridge Trust (GBT) is a private charity and can propose whatever they like (within the terms of their charity) like any developer, so it’s never been in Sadiq's gift to 'cancel' the project, but 'only' to fully withdraw support, as he has done. And other things follow, such as London Borough of Lambeth (LBL) is no longer obliged to continue negotiations on the lease of the grassed South Bank for the southern bridge landing (although it would be good if LBL similarly revoked the decision to enter into such negotiations). And the GBT can no longer claim to be able to make progress in these circumstances - which therefore begs the questions:

 

(i) why are the GBT continuing? How do they meet the remit of their charity by doing so?

(ii) they have a duty to their funders to return money which is unlikely to be spent, including public money – what are they doing about this?

(iii) what are TfL/ GLA doing to claw back any of the £37m given to the GBT now that strategic support has been revoked? Where is the full/itemised breakdown?

 

We should be publicly pursuing those questions, as well pursuing Lambeth to make a similar formal revocation.

 

Take action:

* Write to Sadiq Khan mayor@london.gov.uk and GLA members with these concerns. Copy in GLA members Tom Copley (Labour), Caroline Pidgeon (LibDem), Andrew Boff (Conservative), Sian Berry/Caroline Russell (Green), Peter Whittle (UKIP) who have all expressed disquiet about the money thrown at this vanity project. (Use this format for contacting GLA members: firstname.surname@london.gov.uk)

* Write to the leader of Lambeth Council: Cllr Lib Peck lpeck@lambeth.gov.uk and tell her to withdraw support for the Garden Bridge and to stop negotiations with the GBT.

* Write to Iain Tuckett Executive Director of  Coin Street Community Builders i.e. leaseholders of the South Bank land needed for the GBT's South Landing building; tell them to withdraw support for the Garden Bridge and to stop negotiations for this land which is a public right of way.

 

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

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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

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

 

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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

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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.