LONDON — The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan effectively just killed off London’s controversial “Garden Bridge” project, citing spiralling costs and the real risk that it could be left half-built.
Khan on Friday wrote to The Garden Bridge Trust to say that City Hall was “simply not prepared” to accept the risk of allowing mayoral guarantees for the project to go ahead.
The decision follows a damning review by former Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge last month which warned that taxpayers would be at risk of substantial additional costs for the project.
Hodge also warned that the project could be left incomplete if the Trust failed to secure construction funding.
Planning permission for the £200 million project, estimated to have been the most expensive public footbridge in the world, was due to expire later this year with the Trust yet to secure tens of millions of pounds in promised private funding for construction.
“Under the previous Mayor, a considerable amount of London taxpayers’ money has already been spent on the Garden Bridge. I have always been clear that not a penny more of taxpayers’ money should be allocated to the project,” Khan said on Friday.
“Having assessed all the information available to me including the findings of Dame Margaret Hodge’s independent review, my view is that providing Mayoral guarantees 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 the maintenance of the bridge.
“The funding gap is now at over £70 million 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 to ensure the project is completed.”
The project, which had been initially pushed for by the actress and activist Joanna Lumley, was seen in City Hall as a “vanity project” of former mayor Boris Johnson.
City Hall sources say that Khan and those around him had long been opposed to the project, even before Hodge’s review.
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