This is what the bridge could look like, if it happens (Pic: Garden Bridge Trust)
The completion of London’s new Garden Bridge could be hanging in the balance despite the project being cleared of all financial irregularities.
Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey had complained to the Charity Commission about the project citing concerns about spending by the Garden Bridge Trust. The trust is an independent charity responsible for delivering and running the proposed Garden Bridge. This came shortly after the trust confirmed that the project could potentially cost more than original planned.
“It is true that the total project cost has risen to £185m. This is due to hold-ups caused by land negotiations which have taken longer than expected.”
Following an investigation the commission found that "the trustees were meeting their duties and were acting in compliance with charity law".
Lord Mervyn Davies, the chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust said: "We welcome the fact that the Charity Commission has endorsed our approach and we are always looking to learn lessons and make improvements,"
However, Labour London Assembly member, Tom Copley does not think this investigation was enough stating: “This investigation deals only with claims about the Trust's financial irregularities,"
"With Dame Margaret Hodge's review yet to report, we still don't have answers to questions about whether value for taxpayer money has been achieved. We already know from TfL's internal and external auditors that the procurement process for the bridge lacked openness and transparency.
Copley added: "We need assurances that more public cash won't be squandered on a bridge that may never be completed. As we've made clear, our only chance of safeguarding against that is for the Mayor to refuse to put pen to paper on the maintenance guarantee."
Since its initial proposal The Garden Bridge project has divided opinion. When complete the bridge will be a 366m-long footbridge that will stretch across the River Thames, from the top of Temple underground station to the South Bank. The idea of the bridge is for it to hold an ‘expansive’ garden and footpaths will weave through it to create a pedestrian route. The garden will be free and open to all between the hours of 6am and midnight.
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