Thursday24 August 2017

39% of Garden Bridge donors are anonymous

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£44m given by ‘confidential’ or ‘anonymous’ companies, trusts and individuals

More than a third of the donations for Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge have come from individuals, companies and trusts hiding behind anonymity, according to documents released by the new mayor of London.

Sadiq Khan attempted to “let the sunshine in on the Garden Bridge” by publishing a slew of reports on the controversial project as he reconfirmed his support in return for some minor concessions. These include reducing the number of days the bridge can be shut for private events to “fewer than 12”.

But 39% are from anonymous sources, totalling just under £44 million.

With construction due to start this summer, a shade over £143 million has been raised, leaving a £30 million shortfall.

The original vision for the £175 million Thames crossing was that it would be backed by thousands of Londoners sticking their hands in their pockets.

But a document called Funding to Date published by the mayor (see attached pdf) reveals that just £103,897 has come from donations of £10,000 or less.

Seven other individuals – four of them anonymous – pledged £8.8 million and just under £1 million came from a glitzy fundraising event.

The largest donations came from public funds – £30 million from the Treasury and £30 million from TfL.

The rest has come from 12 trusts and foundations – four of them anonymous – and 14 companies – five of them anonymous. One of the biggest donations, for £10 million, came from a “confidential company”.

The Monument Trust was the biggest named private donor, pledging £20 million. Well-known philanthropists Garfield Weston, Sackler and David and Claudia Harding have all chipped in.

Companies that have handed over money include Sky, which gave £5 million, Citigroup, which gave £2 million, Glencore, which gave £750,000, and Ernst & Young (EY), which gave £500,000. EY carried out the investigation into the heavily criticised procurement of the bridge, but has denied a conflict of interest.

Khan said: “The early days of this project clearly fell short of our expectations on transparency. I am determined to run the most open and transparent administration London has ever seen. I will let the sunshine in, which is why we are today publishing the previously undisclosed full business plan for the Garden Bridge alongside a list of its funders.”

The documents he published also include Heatherwick’s contract and correspondence with RIBA president Jane Duncan.



Readers' comments (16)

  • Imagine, £44m from anonymous donors! They should be exposed. After all, what are their dark motives for skulking in the shadows of this sinister bridge, a crossing not designed by a member of the RIBA. For pity's sake...

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  • Find out who owns property in the immediate vicinity, and you've found your anonymous donors.

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  • Could you Sadiq Khan please, rather than just publishing all the correspondence to Jane Duncan, do the right thing, and also publish the unredacted correspondence internally within TfL leading up to the announcement of the competition, as well as the full internal audit (the 'results are in the public domain) done of the evaluation of entries, by whom, and how agreed by Boris Johnson as Mayor.

    This Mr Khan would then be balanced. Responding only to Jane Duncan is wilfully one sided, and puts her in a compromised position, which is unreasonable of you.

    Transparency, opportunity and equality are needed. As Mr Heatherwick so boldy said recently it should be "exactly the same" for all parties to the competition, shouldn't it Mr Khan?

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  • @Peter

    There is already evidence that the bridge had already been given to Heatherwick before the competition. Which aside from completely wasting the time and money of the other entrants, undermines the whole process.

    If some of the 'anonymous donors' are also involved in any of that shady process, you can surely see that is problematic?

    Or maybe none of that bothers you in the slightest.

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  • I am sure that the Garden bridge will be a superb addition to the London Skyline when it is completed and the heightened involvement of the local community and Khan's support should be welcomed. There were plenty of similar cynical comments about the procurement and construction process when the Millennium bridge was built at Bankside-give Heatherwick a break!

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  • Toby. Indeed. There were also cynical comments about B of the Bang, the true origin of the cauldron design and the new Routemasters. What is wrong with these people.

    As I'm sure you're aware, Foster's footbridge cost £22m. This, with capitalised, taxpayer guaranteed maintenance costs will come in around £250m (assuming a discount rate of 3% in calculating the PV of the ongoing annual £3.5m running costs).

    Sounds to me like Heatherwick's been given that break you were requesting. Kerrr-ching!

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    @ Toby:

    The Millennium bridge at Bankside is an interesting and challenging piece of 20th. century bridge engineering and public architecture that provides a meaningful and necessary connection from one important place to another important place, and is open to everyone at all times. I fear you have not yet reached the beginning of the human ability to reason, which according to Socrates (I paraphrase) is the ability to tell the difference between one thing and another.

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  • A garden bridge across the Thames is a delightful idea, and if Londoners like it, then it’s irrelevant who pays for their wishes to be realised.

    The only evidence we have suggest that they do indeed want it.

    A poll carried out by Yougov on 21-25 March 2014, covering 1,763 London adults, showed a fair and accurate image of the bridge by Arup, against the backdrop of the London skyline, and asked these citizens for their views.

    69% of respondents voted in favour, 22% against, and 9% were undecided. (For details go to https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/03/27/london-poll-strong-support-crossrail-2-and-thames-/

    It’s easy to understand why the ‘Yes’ side won. The image is entrancing, and I’m willing to bet that the bridge will be hugely popular with Londoners and visitors alike.

    Let work commence!

    Maritz Vandenberg

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  • Maritz are you taking the micky?

    Firstly, we've covered this poll, it asked completely untrue and leading questions.

    Secondly, I'd like a treehouse filled with gravy, and I think you should pay for it because it is a delightful idea. I'm sure everyone would agree.

    When are you going to tell us your vested interest in the project.

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  • Martiz

    We've talked about meaningless polls before, yet still you persist in trotting out this nonsense. The YouGov poll was based on a totally factually incorrect question with regard to the cost of the bridge to taxpayers, as I have told you in the past, and you have wilfully chosen to ignore.

    And another, more recent poll by Populus showed only 43% supported:


    An even more recent (indeed ongoing) Evening Standard poll showed that support had waned yet further amongst Londoners with only 39% saying that the Garden Bridge should be built (4398 people polled to date):


    So hopefully that just goes some way to show how pointless it is for you to keep citing selected surveys that suit your argument?

    At the end of the day, I always think it is a good idea to fall back on common sense. Does a capitalised cost of £250m SEEM like the right price to you for a footbridge?

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