Transport secretary Chris Grayling today responded to a plea by the Garden Bridge Trust to extend the necessary insurance fund for a further year by saying the trust could have it for an unlimited period of time. But it offered only £9m instead of the £15m needed for cancellation liabilities.
The current £15m guarantee is due to run out at the end of next month. Trust chairman Mervyn Davies said last week that the project was at "a crucial time" and it would be "a tragedy" if Government support was withdrawn now.
Minister Lord Ahmad said in a Department for Transport statement today that the public "must not be exposed to any further risk".
He said: "The Government wishes the exciting and innovative Garden Bridge project every success and has provided public funding to help get it off the ground," he said.
"We have extended our agreement to underwrite cancellation costs but capped at the current [sic] level of £9m.
"The taxpayer must not be exposed to any further risk and it is now for the trust to find private sector backers to invest in the delivery of this iconic project."
The Garden Bridge Trust said it was working on finding the extra cash from private sources.
"The Government has made it clear it wishes to continue to support the 'exciting and innovative' Garden Bridge and has agreed to extend a large part of its underwriting agreement," a spokeswoman said.
"The Garden Bridge Trustees have agreed to explore any further underwriting required and are currently working with new private sector sources to build on the current support."