Public Accounts Committee chair criticizes Treasury's Garden Bridge involvement
Dec 18, 2016 — The chair of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier MP has criticized the opaque reasons given for the Department for Transport's (DfT) grant of £30m to the Garden Bridge, in a stinging letter to the Treasury's Permanent Secretary Tom Scholar:
Hillier is clearly frustrated by the lack of clarity and detail from Mr Scholar who was asked to provide an analysis of the Garden Bridge business case back in October 2016.
In her letter dated 14th December 2016, she states that the project is "inherently risky" and she remains "concerned about the risk to taxpayers’ money and the commitments that were made to underwrite the project if it is cancelled”.
Former London mayor Boris Johnson issued an instruction in June 2015 to negotiate towards a commitment for the bridge's ongoing costs, and re-issued the instruction in April 2016 giving more leeway to the terms, in a last desperate effort to give the commitment, but this has never been followed through by London City Hall officers, presumably because (i) the Garden Bridge Trust (GBT) was unable to produce a Business Plan which gave credibility to Transport for London (TfL) underwriting the Garden Bridge rather than just very obviously going to fund it immediately, and (ii) it would be irrational for the Mayor to give such an undertaking when his decision to pump TfL's £30m (plus the DfT's £30m) into the project, was on the basis that it would be primarily privately funded...
...and briefly in other news: Thames Central Open Spaces met with Dame Margaret Hodge earlier this month to discuss our concerns about the Garden Bridge (Hodge is conducting a review for London mayor Sadiq Khan) and we eagerly await news of the delayed Garden Bridge financial accounts due at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see exactly how the Garden Bridge Trust has frittered away our money so far.
Many of these developments have come about in some part (a big part!) from the hard work of the local community, determined volunteers and from the generosity of our supporters, so please keep spreading the word about our campaign on social media and add your comment to any publication where you see the Garden Bridge mentioned e.g. newspapers, blogs etc. The GBT still haven't started construction yet because they can't - so we must be doing something right. And we couldn't have got this far without your help - so many, many thanks - we really do appreciate it and we hope that you'll continue to support us in the new year. Merry Christmas!
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