MP calls for parliamentary inquiry into Garden Bridge

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Garden Bridge planImage source, Heatherwick Studio
Image caption,
A review of the project said an estimated £46.4m of taxpayers' money has been spent on the project

An MP has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the Garden Bridge project over concerns Transport for London (TfL) may have been misled to secure £7m of its funding.

A £200m plan to build a bridge covered with trees over the River Thames was abandoned last year.

The Garden Bridge Trust said it secured enough funding to build the bridge - a condition for TfL's contribution.

But investigations by the Architects' Journal found discrepancies.

In a letter to TfL sent on 27 January 2016, the trust's deputy chairman, Paul Morrell, argued that it had met the six conditions in the funding agreement necessary for the release of a £7m contract.

The letter stated the trust had raised a total of £145m.

Three weeks later trustees of the charity were told only £130m had been raised, according to publically available board meeting minutes.

Image source, Arup
Image caption,
Plans proposed more than 270 trees and 2,000 shrubs would be planted on the bridge

Andrew Gwynne MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said: "Taxpayers are out of pocket by nearly £50m and there is very little transparency about how these public funds were used."

"Questions need to be asked why this project was allowed to spiral out of control."

No explanation has been given for the conflicting figures.

The trust declined to comment.

In total, an estimated £46.4m of taxpayers' money - calculated as direct grants of about £26m from the Department of Transport (DfT), around £11m in services in kind from Transport for London (TfL) and the remainder in cancellation costs - has been spent, according to the review by Dame Margaret Hodge.

In February 2017 the Charity Commission cleared the trust of any financial irregularities.

Garden Bridge timeline:

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