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Mayor of London says completing Garden Bridge is in interest of taxpayers

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has used his first Mayor’s Question Time to lay bare the finances of the Garden Bridge.

Sadiq Khan said it would cost taxpayers more than twice as much to cancel the project now, as it would to complete it and build the new bridge.

TfL and the Government have previously committed £30 million each to the Garden Bridge Trust’s £175m project – with the remainder raised through private donations. Of the £30 million pledged by TfL, £20 million is in the form of a loan to be repaid in full.

Sadiq Khan revealed that of the £60 million total of taxpayers money pledged, £37.7 million has already been spent by the Garden Bridge Trust. If the project was scrapped now, this amount would be lost in full with no benefit at all for Londoners or taxpayers.

However, if the Garden Bridge is completed, not only will TfL be repaid its £20 million loan by the Garden Bridge Trust, but they will also pay approximately £22 million in VAT to the Treasury. That means the ultimate bill to taxpayers for completing the bridge will be £18 million – less than half the cost of cancelling the project now.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “From the point at which I became Mayor, it was quite clearly in London taxpayers’ financial interest to complete the Garden Bridge project. It would simply cost Londoners more to cancel the project now, than it would to finish building the Garden Bridge.”

A Garden Bridge Trust spokesperson, said:“We welcome the Mayor’s support and look forward to working with him to make the Garden Bridge happen and deliver its many benefits to millions of Londoners and visitors to the city. We share the Mayor’s desire to keep the Bridge open to everyone for as long as possible and we have already taken steps to address this.

“The public money that has been  spent so far has been used by the Trust to develop the scheme to the stage where we have appointed a contractor, detailed design work has taken place and the Bridge has secured planning permission. That work is crucial in enabling the project to secure large investment from the private sector.

“The £37.7 million of public money that has been spent since the project began includes securing necessary consents, progressing detailed design work, undertaking ground and river investigations, professional fees and developing parts of the bridge off-site.”

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