The Charity Commission has opened an operational compliance case into the charity established to build and deliver London’s new Garden Bridge following complaints over the charity’s expenditure.
The regulator is looking into concerns over the charity over its funding, after Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall, wrote to the National Audit Office over concerns over its spending. The Commission opened an operational compliance case into the Garden Bridge Trust on 27 June.
The Garden Bridge Trust is a UK registered charity with the responsibility to deliver London’s Garden Bridge, a “stunning new public garden and pedestrian crossing, spanning the River Thames from the South Bank to Temple Station on the North Bank”.
A Charity Commission spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have received complaints about the Garden Bridge Trust. We currently have a case open into the charity regarding these complaints about the charity’s expenditure and are assessing the concerns to determine if there is a regulatory role for the Commission.”
The Mayor’s office is also looking at details of a works agreement the Trust has with London Underground Ltd, which the Trust will pay for.
The National Audit Office has also confirmed that it is investigating the organisation.
The NAO is looking at the Department for Transport’s decision to commit £30m to the £175m project, and is questioning how the department exercised controls over the grant.
It was asked by Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxgall, to look into how the Trust had spent two-thirds of the government funding for the project before construction has begun.
According to the Guardian, Hoey wrote to Sir Amyas Morse, the comptroller and auditor general of the NAO, to request a full inquiry into the finances of the project.
She said she was prompted by comments from the new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, that the Garden Bridge Trust had spent £37.7m of its £60m in public funding and so it would cost more to cancel the project than press ahead.
Transport for London, which is due to provide £30m, has separately appointed Ernst & Young to carry out an audit.
A spokeswoman from Garden Bridge Trust said: “London Underground Ltd (LUL) is doing a range of work for the Trust to enable the Garden Bridge to land on the top of Temple tube station on the Northbank. This is essential work which involves strengthening of the roof, enabling the construction of a new lift shaft for the north landing point, diverting cabling out of the area of construction, and foundation works. The Trust has signed a costs agreement with LUL. This requires the Trust to meet the costs against an agreed payment schedule which will be funded by the Trust’s overall project costs. There is no requirement for extra public funds for this work.
“Construction work has not been halted because it has not yet begun. The Garden Bridge Trust is now focusing on all required planning and land matters ahead of starting full construction. This includes concluding land deals with Coin Street Community Builders and on the Northbank with Westminster City Council. It is hoped these will be concluded by the end of July.
“The Trust is also focusing on discharging the outstanding planning conditions in Lambeth and Westminster, discharging obligations within Section 106 agreements and finalising the sequencing of river works. Once all planning and property matters have been resolved the next phase of the London Underground work will commence and construction will begin.