Labour mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan has pledged to scrap the controversial Garden Bridge if he wins next May’s election.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Mr Khan said he would spend the £30m Transport for London has contributed to the project on the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street.
Mr Khan also criticised the spiralling cost of the Thomas Heatherwick-designed bridge, which will run from Temple to the South Bank.
“In principle I love the idea of the Garden Bridge, but what we were sold is a long way from the reality we now face,” Mr Khan said.
“It has become another of Boris Johnson’s white elephant projects – like the cable car which is used by few at the cost of millions of pounds.”
The bridge has nearly trebled in cost, from an original estimate of £60m to its current price tag of £175m.
It has come in for criticism for using public funds after it had initially been conceived as a privately funded project.
Mr Khan continued: “I believe it no longer represents value for money.
“This was supposed to be an entirely privately funded project costing £60m, but the overall cost has tripled, and £60m is being paid for out of the public purse, with a possible maintenance cost of £3.5m a year, for a bridge which will often be closed to the public for private events and won’t be open overnight.”
However, the Garden Bridge Trust has questioned how any new mayor would be able to cancel the project, with initial dredging work due to get under way early next year.
A trust spokesperson said: “The mayoral election is in May 2016, by which time the bridge will be under construction and a substantial amount of public funding spent.”
A Bouygues-led joint venture was named preferred bidder for the scheme in May.
Mr Khan’s comments come as the leader of Labour-led Lambeth Council, Lib Peck, said the local authority was putting on hold negotiations over the land required for the bridge, criticising the use of public funds.
Garden Bridge Trust chairman Lord Melvyn Davies said: “We are staggered at Lambeth’s change in stance.
“In the numerous meetings and in the continual dialogue over two years they have been hugely supportive and great partners.
“To suddenly do a u-turn is extremely troubling; we are so far down the road on fundraising and planning and have huge public support for an extraordinary project with real benefit for the people.”