Garden Bridge 'should be scrapped', says review

According to a report from the Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, the charity behind the London initiative is unlikely to secure the cash needed to complete the project

Artist's impression of the Garden Bridge
Artist's impression of the Garden Bridge

The Garden Bridge project should be scrapped, a review of the viability of the bridge has concluded.

The review, based on work carried out by the Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge at the request of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, says the project to build a tree-covered bridge across the Thames in London is likely to cost more than £200m, but notes that only £69m in private funding pledges has been secured so far.

The review says it is not likely that the Garden Bridge Trust, the charity behind the project, will be able to secure the financial support it needs to complete and then maintain the bridge.

The review says: "The project has already used £37.4m of public money and the agreement to underwrite cancellation costs by the government could bring the bill to the taxpayer up to £46.4m.

"I believe it is better for the taxpayer to accept the loss than to risk the additional demands if the project proceeds. In the present climate, with continuing pressures on public spending, it is difficult to justify further public investment in the Garden Bridge."

Earlier this year, the trust’s annual accounts revealed that it needed to plug a £56m shortfall in the amount it had raised towards the estimated £185m cost of the project.

Lord Mervyn Davies, chair of the Garden Bridge Trust, warned in the accounts that the cost could be even higher because of a number of hurdles and delays that needed to be dealt with.

A Charity Commission case report confirmed that the trust had been meeting its duties and acting in accordance with charity law.

Davies said in response to the review: "We are pleased that Dame Margaret has finally published her report after six months of uncertainty. We will be studying the report in detail and seeking a meeting with the Mayor of London to discuss the next steps.

"The trust remains as determined as ever to make the Garden Bridge happen – it will bring huge benefits to London and the UK."

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