The failed Garden Bridge project will receive an extra £5.5 million from the public purse, as wealthy donors complain that their contributions were “pissed down the drain by a bunch of incompetents”.
Transport for London (TfL) said the money is needed to meet the cost of winding up the charity set up to build and run the crossing in the centre of the English capital.
This brings the amount spent by the public sector to around £43 million – consisting of £24 million from TfL and £19 million from the Department for Transport.
The Garden Bridge Trust is facing legal action from business moguls who provided financial muscle to the controversial scheme to construct a tree-lined bridge over the Thames between Temple and the South Bank.
The project, which had been championed by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, was scrapped last year after the trust didn’t raise enough funds to start building.
Private donors have demanded that £7 million of their funds be returned, claiming the trust promised to give them back their money if the plan failed.
Michael Gross, founder and owner of Sydney & London Properties, put £50,000 towards Garden Bridge and believes the “incompetent” and “irresponsible” trustees should be held responsible for making “a complete mess” of the project.
He told The Architects’ Journal last year: “The money was pissed down the drain by a bunch of incompetents and I feel conned. I give a lot of money to charity and I thought this was a public good – something good for London.”
Freeths, a national law firm with offices in Mayfair, is acting on behalf of an anonymous donor who gave £250,000 to the project.
Christopher Clayton, a solicitor at the firm, previously told The Daily Telegraph: “Freeths is investigating claims against the Garden Bridge Trust on behalf of clients who donated considerable sums of money on the basis that it would be returned in the event the project failed.
“We are keen to speak to any individuals who might have been affected in the same way and who may wish to join forces with us to form a group action against the trust.”