London Assembly says 'opaque' process for bike hire and cable car deals is 'not acceptable'
BORIS JOHNSON'S method of selling sponsorship deals for the bike hire scheme and the upcoming Docklands cable car are slammed as "muddled", "not acceptable" and "almost totally opaque", in a new London Assembly report.
Barclays Bank won the rights to sponsor the hire bikes - apparently after personal intervention from Johnson himself - while the Emirates airline is to sponsor the cable car, but how the two companies sealed their deals is still a mystery, according to the report from the Budget and Performance Committee, four of whose nine members are Tories.
"We received a copy of the cycle hire business case so heavily 'redacted', for reasons of confidentiality, as to be of no value and we have not seen the contract," said Committee chairman John Biggs.
"The circumstances by which the tendering, rejection of bids, and ultimate selection of the partner took place, remain almost totally opaque.
"We only know what TfL [Transport for London] or Barclays will tell us. This is not acceptable for public accountability.
"The lack of openness is fuelling speculation and resulting in an increase in the concerns about TfL's ability to get the best deal for its sponsorship opportunities."
The report also highlights concerns that the cable car deal will see the Emirates name appear on the official Tube map, despite Transport for London previously arguing that commercial brand names on the iconic map "would be inappropriate".
"It became clear that TfL's approach to sponsorship was a bit muddled," says the report.
Despite the harsh criticisms, the Committee backs the idea the Mayor should continue to hold the final say on sponsorship deals, but calls instead for increased transparency.
"Ultimate responsibility for sponsorship decisions rests with the Mayor, but as these are public assets, greater transparency is needed around TfL's future plans for sponsorship," says the report.