Boris’s poor value sponsorship deal finally catches up with him

Barclays is the minority funder of the Cycle Hire scheme.
Commentators have known for some time that Boris Johnson’s cycle hire sponsorship deal with Barclays was incredibly poor value for Londoners and has created a black hole in the scheme’s finances.

Transport for London, unwillingly, has been forced to admit it has no idea when the scheme – promised to have no cost to the taxpayer – would break even.

To help stem the losses, TfL has been mugging local councils for £2m each to fund the scheme’s expansion at the same time as they’re delivering spending cuts in line with Government plans to reduce the deficit.

In various guises, the taxpayer is carrying most of the £225m costs while Barclays derives almost all of the publicity benefits as it seeks to launder its reputation.

Meanwhile, City Hall have paid £27m in bank charges to Barclays over 3 years, mostly from TfL.

The discrepancy between the scheme’s actual costs and the multi-year drip-drip nature of Barclays’ contribution means that on any given day the bank is the recipient of taxpayer funded PR.

Even as scheme users face a doubling of fees, TfL continues to act against the public interest by refusing to confirm how much of the promised £50m the bank has actually paid.

It almost doesn’t matter anymore. In doubling the scheme’s fees, Boris has finally admitted just how cheap a deal the bank got.


  1. Matt says

    I was having a poke around the CBS Outdoor site, trying to figure out quite how a good a deal Barclays got from the Mayor. It got depressing quickly, but it seems roughly that, for the same £50 million over five years, Barclays could have placed a dozen or so large-scale posters at prime tube stations, or a few hundred ads on the sides of double decker buses. Instead they got to plaster their logo on 8,000 bikes and several hundred docking stations, all of which are on 24 hour display in central London, plus effectively gaining permanent advertising space on TfL’s website and promotional material, along with an immeasurable amount of free PR in every news story about the bike scheme.

    Not a bad day’s work for the Barclays marketing team.

    And if that comparison isn’t like for like enough, consider that while Barclays paid £50 million for effectively 8000 mobile billboards (the bikes) and 15000 small fixed ones (the docking points) in central London, they paid £63 million for effectively one single (admittedly very large) billboard in New York’s outer boroughs (the new Brooklyn Nets basketball arena).