Margaret Hodge to conduct £25,000 investigation
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has ordered a review of the £185m Garden Bridge, to be conducted by Margaret Hodge.
Hodge, a former architecture minister, built a fearsome reputation in her five years as chair of the Public Account Committee.
Khan has asked her to look in detail at whether value for money has been achieved from taxpayers’ £60m contribution to the project.
Hodge will also investigate the work of TfL, the GLA and other relevant authorities going back to when the Heatherwick Studio-designed project was first proposed.
Once the review is completed, a report will be produced for the mayor.
A team featuring Bouygues and Italian firm Cimolai was due to have started work on the scheme this summer but earlier this month Garden Bridge Trust chairman Lord Mervyn Davies said work was now “likely” to start next year.
Khan said: “I’m clear that since the beginning of the project there hasn’t been the necessary standard of transparency and openness around the Garden Bridge.
“Nearly £40m of public money has already been spent on the Garden Bridge project and Londoners deserve far more information about the decisions that have been made around how their money is being spent.”
He said there was “no better qualified person to get to the bottom of the procurement process around the Garden Bridge, and establish whether Londoners have been getting value for money since the project began”.
He added: “I am absolutely clear that no new London taxpayers’ funds should be committed to the Garden Bridge, but I’m also determined that the Garden Bridge review helps the project achieve higher standards of accountability and transparency it has so far been lacking.”
The Garden Bridge Review will cost up to £25,000, and the GLA and TfL will provide other non-financial support, including information going back to the beginning of the project, and interviews with staff.
Hodge said: “It’s not a project that I have previously had an opinion on either for or against, but given the millions of pounds of public money allocated to the project, it is clear that there needs to be far more transparency around how funds are being spent.
“The planned bridge is a major project in an iconic part of London, and there are clearly questions that remain unanswered around issues like procurement.”
The Garden Bridge Review will assess the findings of a number of other previous reviews including TfL’s internal audit and the National Audit Office investigation into the Department for Transport’s role. The Charity Commission is also currently deciding whether to launch an investigation after a complaint from a local MP.
Terms of reference for Garden Bridge Review include
- To assess the public sector contribution to the Garden Bridge project and whether value for money has been achieved.
- To investigate the conduct of Transport for London, the Greater London Authority and other relevant authorities in regard to the Garden Bridge project from first proposal to date.
- To achieve this through assessing the findings of previous reviews, interviewing current and former GLA/TfL staff and other stakeholders, and investigating more deeply as required.
- To set out any lessons that should be learnt in order to improve the conduct of potential and approved projects in the future.
- To produce a report for the Mayor of London, which will be published in full.