Assembly calls for more transparent approach to sponsorship

Ams want TfL to be more transparent about sponsorship deals. Image: MayorWatch
Transport for London should adopt a “clearer, more consistent and transparent” approach to sponsorship deals according to a new report by the London Assembly.

The Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee has been investigating TfL’s approach to sponsorship of major schemes such as the cable care and cycle hire scheme.

Today’s report says TfL has learned lessons since it and Mayor Boris Johnson entered into a sponsorship agreement with high-interest lender Wonga in 2010.

However the committee has called on TfL to better define its brand values so it can assess the suitability of potential sponsors against them.

Another key recommendation is that “TfL should make greater transparency a requirement of the sponsorship tender process.”

Assembly Members and City Hall observers have long been critical that key details about existing sponsorship agreements are protected from public scrutiny.

Other recommendations include setting out which areas of TfL’s activities are unsuitable for commercial sponsorship and introducing a clear policy on product or company endorsement.

AMs also want TfL to set out “how it would manage a situation where a sponsor suffered major reputational damage” after an agreement was entered into.

The full report, Whose brand is it anyway?, can be downloaded from the Assembly’s website.

Committee chair John Biggs says: “Sponsorship offers a chance to bring in large sums of money for London’s transport network, which might make the difference between new infrastructure going ahead or remaining on the drawing board.
“However, so far Transport for London seems to have taken an ad hoc approach to sponsorship, which could expose it to unnecessary risk if a sponsor suffered serious reputational damage. This is something you can’t always predict – look at what happened to BP.
“TfL has acknowledged the need for a new single policy on sponsorship but it must also take a more consistent and transparent approach so Londoners can be sure any future deals are in the best interests of the capital.”