London's Garden Bridge project scrapped

Garden Bridge Protest
Garden Bridge Protest

Plans for London's Garden Bridge have been formally scrapped, it was announced today.

The Garden Bridge Trust attempted to blame Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for the cancellation of the controversial river crossing after the latter said he couldn't guarantee his support of the project.

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Lord Davies, chairman of the trust, said: "It is with great regret that trustees have concluded that without Mayoral support the the project cannot be delivered. We are incredibly sad that we have not been able to make the dream of the Garden Bridge a reality and that the Mayor does not feel able to continue with the support he initially gave us."

Back in April, Khan refused to commit further public funds to the bridge after it was revealed £37.4 million of public money had already been spent, without building work even starting.

With the UK's economy going through a difficult time since the Brexit referendum and the continuing uncertainty over the country's finances once the Brexit process is completed, many believed it was a waste of public money, particularly when the NHS is struggling.

Khan asked Labour MP Margaret Hodge to review if the bridge was value for public money, she recommend the project be scrapped, suggesting it would cost over £200million to build.

Since it was first announced three years ago, it had been criticised as a 'vanity project' of then-Mayor Boris Johnson, who famously championed the Emirates Air Line cable car from North Greenwich to Docklands, which has very low passenger usage.

Johnson and fellow bridge supporters claimed it would bring tourism to the South Bank, despite the area already bustling with tourists.

The bridge would have connected the Temple area to the South Bank - despite Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge being a 5 minute walk away in either direction.

Many questioned the need for a bridge in the centre of London, when so many motorists were crying out for more river crossings further east down the Thames.

Although it was touted as a bridge for the public to enjoy, many Londoners were upset when it emerged it would be closed off on occasions for private events.

Locals were also unimpressed that Transport for London would be contributing to the bridge, when TfL justify their annual fare rises on the need to upgrade the tube and increase capacity.

Some critics had claimed the annual costs to maintain the Garden Bridge alone would dwarf the rest of the capital's river crossings' fees.

There were also fears the bridge would ruin protected views from Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridge.

In a statement on Monday, the Mayor said: "Londoners will, like me, be very angry that London taxpayers have now lost tens of millions of pounds – committed by the previous Mayor on a project that has amounted to nothing."

Johnson, who previously declined to assist in Hodge's review of the project, tried to put the blame on Khan for the end of the project, claiming the bridge would have been "easily financed", despite the Trust's struggle to find financing.

He said: "So sad Sadiq Khan has killed Garden Bridge and wasted so much time and money. Labour has no vision for London and no ambition."

BBC London's transport correspondent Tom Edwards said: "It was never really a transport project, it was a tourist attraction and crucially in 2012 no-one asked locals if they wanted it."