Monday 13 May 2019 5:38 pm

TfL did not see controversial Garden Bridge construction contract, boss reveals

Transport for London (TfL) did not see the contract that the Garden Bridge Trust signed with a construction company for its proposed crossing over the Thames, which was later scrapped to the tune of £53.5m. 

The Garden Bridge project, which was backed by former mayor Boris Johnson and whose trustees included Joanna Lumley and former Labour minister Lord Davies, was cancelled in 2017. The total costs of the bridge, which was never built, came to £53.5m, £43m of which will be footed by the taxpayer.

TfL boss Mike Brown today revealed that the transport body, which signed a £20m loan with the trust, did not see sight of the contract before it was signed.

Read more: £53.5m Garden Bridge debacle a 'failure for charity'

The trust came under heavy fire for apparently signing the contract despite the fact that there were still unresolved issues at the time of the signing. Top Copley, the London Assembly member that leads the Garden Bridge working group, said it was "reckless" for the trust to go ahead with the contract despite the fact the necessary funds were not secured.

Brown told the London Assembly's Garden Bridge working group that the process of mayoral directions, which has since changed to allow the TfL board greater scrutiny.

"That whole arrangement is now in a very different place," Brown said. "At that time, it would have been considered strange for us to consider dabbling into a contract that was signed between them and the construction company."

Read more: City Hall 'repeating mistakes' of Garden Bridge scandal over housing loan

The then London mayor, Boris Johnson, was also criticised for watering down some of the charity's funding conditions in a mayoral direction in 2016.

Brown also suggested to the Assembly that the lessons from the Garden Bridge had prompted him to cancel the procurement process for a signalling upgrade for the Piccadilly line "because I wasn't confident that there was a steady stream of funding for that signalling procurement to happen".