7 Jan 2017

The Garden Bridge has been or is under scrutiny from five probes:

1 – Dame Margaret Hodge Review

Sadiq Khan asked Dame Margaret Hodge MP to lead a wide-ranging review into the project’s handling by TfL, the GLA and other authorities. Hodge has been receiving a lot of evidence for this and is expected to publish early in 2017. The GBT said through gritted teeth that they welcomed the review, though more recently in a Guardian article they suggested that fundraising had stalled (not that it really had pace in the first place!) due to the Hodge review leaving the project hanging in the balance.

2 – National Audit Office:

The NAO found that should the project proceed, which isn’t guaranteed, then the Garden Bridge Trust could ask the taxpayer for more money, because “The pattern of behaviour outlined in this report is one in which the Trust has repeatedly approached the government to release more of its funding for pre-construction activities when it encounters challenges.” Read the NAO report HERE.

3 – The Charity Commission:

The CC are still considering whether to launch a full inquiry into the Garden Bridge Trust following a evidence from Kate Hoey MP and others. Kate said that people “are concerned that the Garden Bridge project is ‘hiding behind’ its status as a Registered Charity in order to prevent the transparency and accountability that would normally be required of a public infrastructure project of this size. There is a concern that there may be a scenario of serious non-compliance by the GBT that has the potential to damage its reputation and/or the reputation of charities generally, as well as the reputation of the Commission itself, if this is not looked into.”

4 – GLA Design Procurement Inquiry:

The GLA Oversight Committee spent many months investigating the procurement of the Garden Bridge, resulting in a report which stated there had been “significant failures of process throughout” the procurements, concluding that “the objectivity and fairness of this procurement process was adversely affected by these actions”. They also stated that the internal TfL review of the procurement had been changed from the first version to “reduce or soften criticism of how senior managers conducted the procurement”. This led Sadiq Khan, then standing to be mayor, to proclaim it was “a whitewash designed to cover up incompetence” and called for the project to be shelved.

5 – Ernst & Young Review of TfL Procurement Audit:

TfL asked its own external auditor, E&Y, to review their own procurement review. They also “identified a number of issues considering the evaluation and analysis of the tenders in both contracts” and that “the evaluation process… did not follow TfL procurement policy and procedure in a number of instances”. The executive summary (PDF) seemed to water down some of the body content of the audit, which included highlighting that the same person, Richard de Cani who went on to join Arup, single handedly judged the two Garden Bridge procurements (then lost the notes) and edited the procurement review. But is it unexpected that the Executive Summary was watered down when it was commissioned by the party under investigation and carried out by a major Garden Bridge donor who are represented on the board of Trustees?



This post was originally part of The Garden Bridge 12 Days of Christmas.


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