Transport bosses have been praised for delivering on promises of greater transparency by proactively publishing their cycle hire sponsorship contract with Santander.
Last week City Hall and Transport for London announced the bank had beaten stiff competition from rival brands including Coca-Cola and Jaguar Land Rover to replace Barclays as the scheme’s sponsor.
The Santander deal is worth more then £43m over seven years, with the bank also committing a further £1m per year to fund promotional campaigns aimed at boosting usage.
TfL’s previous deal with Barclays was repeatedly mired in controversy, in part because of the presence of gagging clauses preventing publication of the contract.
Assembly Members, journalists and freedom of information campaigners were repeatedly denied access to the contract, hampering scrutiny and making in difficult to assess whether Londoners were getting a fair deal.
The failure to publish the document led to a wide-ranging London Assembly report highlighting transparency failings both within TfL and other Mayoral agencies.
In response to the report, TfL bosses committed themselves to “proactively” publishing the most frequently requested information without the need for freedom of information requests.
It also agreed to publish more of its high value contracts and all future sponsorship deals, including the Santander contract which is now available online.
The early publication of the contract has been welcomed by John Biggs, chair of the Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee, who said: “It’s a step in the right direction that TfL has delivered on its promise to the Assembly on publishing this contract.
“It’s clear that TfL is becoming a more transparent organisation, and that’s very much to be welcomed.”
However Mr Biggs said progress was “patchy” and said AMs are “not yet convinced everyone at TfL ‘gets’ transparency.”
He added: “TfL is getting much better at explaining ‘what’ its decisions are – but Londoners need to know more about the ‘why’ as well.”
An online TfL consultation on further transparency is currently underway and closes on March 8th.