London

Scrapping Garden Bridge would 'cost twice as much as building it'

Artists impression of the Garden Bridge over the River Thames. Image copyright Heatherwick Studio
Image caption An artist's impression of how the Garden Bridge would look over the River Thames

London mayor Sadiq Khan claims cancelling the Garden bridge across the Thames would cost the taxpayer twice as much as to complete the £175m project.

Speaking at his first Mayor's Question Time, he said £37.7m of the £60m pledged by Transport for London and the government had already been spent.

If the project was scrapped now, this amount would be lost in full.

If built the Bridge's Trust would repay its £20m loan to TfL, plus £22m in tax, meaning taxpayers would have paid £18m.

He said: "I will support the building of the Garden Bridge, but I am demanding that the project is made more accessible and open to all Londoners in return."

'Balancing private funds'

The total cost of the bridge is £175m - £30m each from TfL and the government and the rest from private finance.

Questions were raised in March when it was revealed Transport for London officials met the designer of the planned bridge four times before the procurement process began.

Some Labour members of the London Assembly are unhappy as they wanted the bridge cancelled but Mr Khan said officials were drawing up a report for him on any further risks to the taxpayer.

Speaking to Assembly members, Mr Khan said he would ensure that no more public money would be spent on it.

The Garden Bridge Trust has said: "We share the mayor's desire to have the Bridge open to everyone for as long as possible.

"Balancing this and the need to raise the required private funds to operate the Bridge is important."

It added that it had set up a youth board of more than 40 students who would be involved in developing its education and schools programme.

Sadiq Khan's demands include:

•The bridge to be closed for fewer than 12 days each year for private fundraising events

•The Bridge to be closed for fewer hours when it closes for fundraising events - the current plans are for it to be closed from midnight to midnight

•A guarantee children from local schools will get to visit and be involved in planting and maintenance

•The Garden Bridge Trust to build a strong working relationship with all of London's parks so that plants grown on the bridge can be replanted elsewhere

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