Sadiq Khan has said it would cost taxpayers twice as much to cancel the controversial Garden Bridge as to complete it. London’s new mayor did however also express support for a proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.
Designed by Thomas Heatherwick and championed by the actress and Lambeth resident Joanna Lumley, the Garden Bridge scheme has come in for criticism for various reasons including the public cost, the tender process and because cyclists will not be allowed to ride across it.
Sadiq Khan had previously said he would scrap the project if elected as mayor. However, speaking at his first Mayor’s Question time, he revealed that of the £60m of public money committed, £37.7m had already been spent.
Khan said that if the project were scrapped, all of this money would be lost, whereas if it were completed a £20m Transport for London loan would be repaid and the Garden Bridge Trust would also pay £22 million in VAT to the Treasury. The final public cost would therefore be £18 million.
The London Evening Standard reports Khan as saying:
“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.
“So I will support the building of the Garden Bridge, but I am demanding that the project is made more accessible and open to all Londoners in return.”
Khan did however express support for the proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf. Sustrans has said that a new bike bridge over the Thames in this location would take major pressure off London’s public transport network, a feasibility study published by the charity indicating that it would see 10,200 cycle journeys and 3,000 walking journeys a day.
Khan described the bridge as "a great project that points to the future of river crossings in London."
The mayor was also pressed on whether he would extend the Santander Cycles scheme into Bermondsey and Rotherhithe and said that he would.