The Charity Commission has filed its report on the Garden Bridge Trust, confirming that the body in charge of the Garden Bridge project has correct financial controls in place, however the commission is unable to judge on how the project is funded which has been the subject of ongoing criticism from the public
The Charity Commission has published a report on the Garden Bridge Trust following a number of complaints about the charity, and a wider public discussion regarding the risks involved with such a project.
Concerns were raised to the commission over the funding, structure and governance of the charity; its ability to carry out a project of this size; and whether conflicts of interest had been managed accordingly.
The commission found that the trustees of the charity were meeting their duties and the Trust was meeting its obligations as a registered charity.
The Trust was able to justify the high forward spend made and account for the spend to date as well as having appropriate financial controls in place to manage the £30m government grant handed to the charity by the Department for Transport.
However, the commission expects a fuller description of how the funds are to be used with greater detail on how the charity would meet its liabilities in the event of a closure.
The commission is not able to examine the merits of the project or how it is funded but the National Audit Office (NAO) has previously published an investigation into the £30m grant towards the construction of the project and Dame Margaret Hodge MP is currently conducting a review of the project, including its value for money.
David Holdsworth, chief operating officer at the Charity Commission said: ‘We have been able to offer public assurance that the Garden Bridge Trust is meeting its obligations as a registered charity and that it has the proper financial controls in place. We are aware of the considerable public debate regarding this project. Our role is not to comment on the merits of the project but to assess concerns about its governance and ensure it is compliant with the legal framework for charities.
‘This case shows that high profile charities can attract considerable public scrutiny, and the public rightly expect charities to be transparent and accountable. Having trustees in place with the right skills and experience is crucial for a charity to operate effectively.’
The Garden Bridge Trust was established for the purpose of constructing and maintaining the Garden Bridge, a substantial project which proposes a new 366 metre long pedestrian bridge across the Thames.
The Charity Commission’s case report on the Garden Bridge Trust is available here.