MP SAYS GARDEN BRIDGE IS ' A SORRY TALE'

 

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The Thames Garden Bridge project has been described as a “sorry tale” by the chair of an influential Parliamentary committee.

The words, from Meg Hillier MP, come as her Public Accounts Committee submit evidence to an inquiry into the funding of the bridge by Dame Margaret Hodge MP - details here.

 So far £60 million of public money has been pledged to the proposed £185 million footbridge: £30 million from central Government and £30 million from Transport for London.

The committee, which has taken no formal position on the Garden Bridge, has  concerns about the risk to taxpayers’ money.

Meg Hillier MP, said: “The story of the Garden Bridge is a sorry tale about how high profile individuals with the ear of the powerful Mayor of London can gain access to funds with little risk. At each stage it is taxpayers who have footed the bill.

 “The London taxpayer has been doubly hit. In addition to central Government putting in £30 million, TfL has also contributed £30 million for a project that seems largely for the benefit of tourists.

 “With an already stretched budget, TfL can ill afford this and there are still important questions about who would pay the ongoing maintenance of the bridge which the Mayor’s review needs to get to the bottom of.

 “All this public money has been pledged without a convincing business case. The timetable has now slipped so there is serious likelihood that if the bridge gets the go-ahead it will clash with work to build the Thames Tideway tunnel.

 “Wishful thinking and a close relationship with the Mayor are not the basis on which central Government should be spending taxpayers’ money.

 “Even when officials made their concerns clear the minister overrode them, potentially throwing good money after bad to protect taxpayers’ original investment.

 “If the promised private investment fails to materialise this muddled thinking will result in a poor deal for taxpayers
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A spokeman for the bridge project said that as the inquiry was into public funding the organisation would not comment.

Story dated Oct 31st 2016