The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has withdrawn guarantees of funding for the Garden Bridge over the Thames, throwing the project’s future into doubt.
In a letter to Lord Mervyn Davies, chair of the Garden Bridge Trust, Khan said the continuation of the project, designed by Thomas Heatherwick with structural engineering by Arup, “will expose the London taxpayer to additional financial risk, with regard to the bridge’s construc- tion and its operation and maintenance.”
Before making the decision, the Mayor “analysed the findings of Dame Margaret Hodge’s independent review into the project, and assessed all the information available about the project to date.”
The Mayor’s Office said this was not a sudden decision by Khan, and that he has “repeatedly stated that he would not agree to any more of London taxpayers’ money for which he is responsible being spent on the Garden Bridge project.” He had “also made clear that he would not provide any Mayoral guarantees unless he was convinced that the project would not
lead to additional public expenditure down the line.”
Khan’s letter outlined a number of ways in which the project would represent additional financial risk. These included “increasing capital costs, the risk of the bridge only being partially built, and doubts over the establishment of an endowment fund to help meet future maintenance costs.”
Sadiq Khan commented: “Having assessed all the information available to me, my view is that providing Mayoral guaran- tees will expose the London taxpayer to too much additional financial risk.
“With planning permission due to expire this year, many outstanding issues remain, including spiralling construction costs and doubts around funding maintenance.
“The funding gap is now at over £70m and it appears unlikely that the Trust will succeed in raising the private funds required for the project. I am simply not prepared to risk a situation where the taxpayer has to step in and contribute significant additional amounts.”