Today the National Audit Office published its findings from its investigation into the Department for Transport’s grant of £30 million towards the construction of the Garden Bridge. It turns out that more than £20m of public money may have potentially been wasted.
The controversial project requires £30m contributions from the Department, along with another £30m from the Greater London Authority, including a £10m grant and a £20m long-term loan, to meet its £185m total budget. The report shows that the Department pledged the funds despite there being questionable transport or tourism benefits. The Department has also increased the cap of pre-construction funding from £8.2 million to a maximum of £22.5 million, all of which could now be wasted as the project falls into crisis.
This is a striking case of the lack of accountability of government spending on vanity projects. It is truly extraordinary that such an amount of taxpayers’ money can just be handed to a project without the necessary private donations or even land leases. The government should drop any plans of further funding on the Garden Bridge and ensure that future investments are only made in cost-effective projects, and any expenditures should be subjected to the highest level of accountability.