Public funding for the Garden Bridge project in London should be halted pending answers to questions about its procurement, according to the London Assembly.
The assembly said Transport for London (TfL) should also get back any public money already allocated to the scheme and London mayor Boris Johnson should answer all questions relating to the tendering process for the design.
Assembly member and Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon called the procurement process for the design of the pedestrian bridge over the Thames at Temple “unorthodox”.
“The latest discovery is that even before Transport for London had invited companies to submit their design bids for the bridge the Mayor was flying around the world at taxpayers’ expense to promote one specific design,” she said.
“It is time that the full facts over the procurement of the design contract were finally revealed. In the meantime not a penny more of public money should be poured into the project and every attempt should be made to recover any public money already allocated.”
Around £60m of funding from TfL and the government has been allocated to the scheme, which has an estimated price tag of around £175m.
A motion agreed by the assembly said: “The assembly reiterates that there is no case for any TfL funding to be allocated to the Garden Bridge Trust and urges TfL to now enter into discussions to ensure that existing public money allocated to the project is fully recovered as quickly as possible.”
The president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Jane Duncan, has called for the project to be put on hold and “the whole procurement process is then opened up to detailed scrutiny”.
“This is by no means a comment on the work of the immensely talented Heatherwick Studio and Arup teams,” said Duncan. “Our concerns are about the fairness and transparency of the procurement process.”
An internal audit last September found there was no evidence that TfL's procurement for the Garden Bridge scheme would not provide value for money.