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Richard Spector: “Charity trust burns bridges with London Mayor”

Plans to build a £200 million ‘garden bridge’ across the breadth of the River Thames have been scrapped, reports Richard Spector, managing partner of ELS Legal.

The project was officially scrapped on Monday, after months of uncertainty over how it was to be funded.

Earlier this year, a review into whether the Garden Bridge offered taxpayers value for money said the multi-million pound project should be scrapped.

The charity behind the bridge, The Garden Bridge Trust, scolded the London Mayor in its announcement.

“It is with great regret that trustees have concluded that without mayoral support the project cannot be delivered,” wrote Lord Mervyn Davies, chair of the trust.

“We are incredibly sad that we have not been able to make the dream of the garden bridge a reality and that the mayor does not feel able to continue with the support he initially gave us.”

The Mayor withdrew his support of the project in April, after refusing to underwrite the bridge’s anticipated £3 million annual running costs.

He said such a guarantee would “expose the London taxpayer to too much additional financial risk”.

However, the review of the project said £37.4 million had already been spent on the project, and it would cost taxpayers £46.4 million if it was cancelled.

Lord Davies continued: “We had made great progress obtaining planning permission, satisfying most of our planning conditions and we had raised £70m of private money towards the project.

“The garden bridge would have been a unique place; a beautiful new green space in the heart of London, free to use and open to all, showcasing the best of British talent and innovation. It is all the more disappointing because the trust was set up at the request of TfL, the organisation headed up by the mayor, to deliver the project.

“It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects.”

The plans to build the bridge were first proposed in 2013, apparently after the Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley suggested the idea to the then London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The trust said it would now begin terminating contracts and concluding donor funding agreements. The trust itself would be wound up in accordance with the Companies Act, it added.

About Richard Spector: Managing Partner Richard specialises in property transactions and commercial litigation. Richard has acted in a number of high profile cases and was heavily involved in the litigation that arose from the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Richard has been involved in a number of cross-border litigation cases and recently acted successfully for the Claimants in Harlequin Property (SVG) Ltd & Anr v Wilkins Kennedy, listed in the Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2016.

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Richard Spector

Richard is a Partner in the litigation department. Richard specialises in commercial litigation across a number of sectors and often involving international elements to the dispute. Richard has acted in a number of high profile cases and was heavily involved in the litigation that arose from the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

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