Sunday, February 11, 2018

Charity Commission Warns Garden Bridge Trust Over Failing To File Accounts


Back in January Taxi Leaks posted an article in regards to the Garden Bridge Trust refusing to release minute of meetings. 

We can now reveal that the Garden Bridge Trust has been warned it could face ‘regulatory action’ from the Charities Commission after missing the deadline to file its 2017 accounts 

The trust is under intense scrutiny as it attempts to wind up its operations after spending almost £50 million of public money on the cancelled and unbuilt Garden Bridge. It had been due to file end-of-year accounts on 31 January.

The charity is also continuing to refusing to comply with repeated requests from its public-sector sponsor Transport for London (TfL) for records of its meetings, despite demands from the organisation’s legal team, the AJ understands.

A spokesperson for the Charities Commission said: ‘The Garden Bridge Trust, which is in the process of winding up, has informed us it will be late filing its accounts for the financial year 2017.

‘Filing accounts is a legal requirement for all registered charities and the commission will consider regulatory action if the delay is significant. 

The public rightly expects charities to be transparent about their financial activity, so filing on time is key to running a charity properly.’

Responding to the latest news, London mayor Sadiq Khan once again hit out at the trust, saying that Londoners deserved ‘full transparency’.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: 
‘That is why he commissioned Dame Margaret Hodge’s independent review of the project, and why TfL’s legal team continues to seek access to the minutes from the Garden Bridge Trust board meetings.

‘He remains angry that London taxpayers have lost millions of pounds on a project, backed by the previous mayor, that has amounted to nothing.’

Khan’s stance was backed by Labour MP for Vauxhall Kate Hoey, a persistent critic of the project.

‘It is concerning that the Garden Bridge Trust has failed to file accounts,’ she said. ‘I am pleased that the Charity Commission has now said that they will hold the trust to account.

‘The trust has up to now managed to avoid any transparency and this must be rectified so that the public know the truth about its accounts and its abortive attempt to build a bridge.’

When the scheme was finally shelved last summer, the budget for the Thomas Heatherwick-designed crossing was estimated to be more than £200 million. 

The Garden Bridge Trust was unavailable for comment.

Questions need to be asked:

What’s happened to the £50m?

We were told in Feb 2016, Boris Johnson’s chief transport advisor, Isabel Dedring, is leaving City Hall to take up a new role with design and engineering group Arup.

There were obvious concerns of conflict of interest when both Dedring and TfL head of planning Richard de Cani, were both given jobs with Arup

London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown MVO said: 
“Isabel has done a great job in the Mayor’s office. 

But why did Isabel Dedring quite her job as Deputy Mayor in London (in her words, the best job in the world) and join the firm contracted to build the Garden Bridge?


When questioned by Margret Hodge MP (2017), Dedring said that she and her colleague always thought the project was a crazy idea and would never happen!

Newly released transcripts of the interview with Isabel Dedring, now global transport leader at Garden Bridge engineer Arup, also reveal clashes with Hodge over the extent of the deputy mayor’s role.

The interview took place with Hodge last November as part of the Labour MP’s six-month inquiry into the £200 million project, and the transcript has been released alongside dozens of others by the GLA following pressure from Conservative members of the London Assembly, who were critical of the report.

In the 40-page transcript, Dedring – who was criticised by Hodge in her subsequent report for suggesting she was barely involved with the Garden Bridge – says at least 12 times that she cannot remember specific details sought by the MP.



Margaret Hodge pressed Dedring on who had pushed for the appointment of Heatherwick and Arup, and Dedring replied: ‘I didn’t know Arup from a hole in the wall so I wouldn’t care whether they won it or didn’t win it or whatever … City Hall wouldn’t care who designed the bridge.’

Hodge replied: ‘But somebody did. Somebody did.’

When Hodge pointed out that Arup had earned between £8 million and £9 million from the contract by April 2015, Dedring replied: ‘I know, but in the grand scheme of TfL’s budget, which is £10 billion a year, it’s quite small. I agree with you but I’m just saying, that’s a fact.’

On the subject of the alleged conflict-of-interest over both her and former TfL head of planning Richard de Cani going to work for Arup, Dedring told Hodge this was ‘disconcerting for me personally but, it’s also bad for us corporately.’

She added that Arup has a £1billion turnover, saying: ‘The idea that somehow they would waste this extraordinary amount of money on me and Richard in exchange for what for them is a very small contract is absurd, apart from anything else.’

Hodge also pressed Dedring on what constraints should have been placed on the Garden Bridge Trust in terms of pre-construction spending. She asked who would have scrutinised this in order to protect the public purse.

Dedring replied: 
‘Nobody really’ 
Prompting Hodge to reply: 
‘Jesus.’


Oh what a tangled web we weave.... and all that jazz  

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