Transport for London has been advised to create guidelines for selecting sponsors after previously facing criticism for agreeing a deal with short-term loans company Wonga.
The London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee recommended that TfL should “publish a clear set of criteria against which to assess the suitability of potential sponsors”.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson was criticised for allowing Wonga to sponsor travel on the London Underground on New Year’s Eve, which allowed revellers to ride on the Tube for free around the turn of 2011.
Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone vowed to ban high-cost credit companies from advertising or sponsoring the Tube until limits were placed on the cost of credit, should he be elected in May.
In the report, titled ‘Whose brand is it anyway?’, the committee states: “There are indications that TfL now recognises that it got it wrong on the Wonga deal”.
It acknowledges TfL now appears to have changed its outlook on sponsorship to take into account whether the company is “appropriate”, rather than just asking solely if they are a legitimate business. However, it has called on TfL to make clear what the criteria is.
However, a footnote in the report states that when asked about whether there were problems with the Wonga deal, TfL commercial development director Graeme Craig said: “I am not sure that I did say there was a problem with the Wonga deal. What I said was the Wonga deal was signed by people using the rules in place at that time.”
Wonga head of marketing Darryl Bowman said: “At no time have we been told that TfL would not work with us. Indeed, we have a good relationship with them and only recently had a constructive meeting with senior representatives. We understand TfL is looking to design and implement a general sponsorship policy which is a welcome move.”
Once TfL publishes its own sponsorship policy, it could be rolled out across the other Greater London Assembly organisations, according to the committee.
The report also recommends TfL adds more transparency to the sponsorship tender process to ensure it gets the best value for money from deals.
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