Cycle Hire funding: TfL says “nothing” yet received from Westfield

Despite the headline sponsorship deals, taxpayers are the schemes major funders. Image: MayorWatch

MayorWatch reader Lawrence Weetman has forwarded me Transport for London’s response to an FOI request he made about the cycle hire scheme’s funding.

The response, dated March 23rd, contains what seems to be a significant new piece of information, namely that “nothing has been received to date” from Westfield for the scheme’s expansion to its shopping centre.

Perhaps not what Londoners would have understood from City Hall’s July 2011 statement that:

“Westfield London Shopping Centre is to provide funding that will allow an early taster of the western expansion by extending Barclays Cycle Hire to the shopping centre by spring 2012.”

It also seems at odds with Boris Johnson’s own words:

“My thanks also go to the Boroughs who have been champing at the bit for an expansion of this scheme, and to Westfield London for providing an investment that from next year will enable hordes of shoppers to make the journey to their glittering halls by the cleanest, greenest and most enjoyable form of transport available.”

TfL’s press and FoI teams have confirmed to me that the statement “nothing has been received to date” is accurate.

When reading TfL’s response, keep the following in mind:

The £1.5m “received to date” would imply that’s the cash TfL has had so far from Tower Hamlets.

The claim that “No funding has been received from the GLA” is slightly misleading as TfL is a functional body within the Greater London Authority and is making good the massive shortfall between costs and Barclays’ funding to date – a slice of the maximum £50m.

Everything TfL spends on the scheme is GLA money.

The FOI response in full:

1. Please could you inform me of planned future funding as well as funding already received from the following sources:

a) Barclays Bank
Barclays recently extended their sponsorship of the Scheme until 2018 which will take their total investment up to £50m.

However, in this instance information on the funding already received from Barclays and their future funding of the Scheme is exempt from disclosure, under section 43(2) of the FOI Act, as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of TfL.  The exemption has been applied as disclosure of this information would be likely to adversely affect TfL’s ability to gain the best value from future sponsorship opportunities, for the Scheme or in other areas, by revealing the extent to which payments have already been made or are due in future. The disclosure of this would adversely affect TfL’s bargaining power when negotiating other sponsorship opportunities. In addition, under the Sponsorship Agreement between TfL and Barclays, there are specific restrictions on the disclosure of information considered to be confidential by either party. A breach of this Agreement would risk a legal claim being made, which would impose additional, unnecessary, costs on TfL, to the detriment of its commercial interests.

The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned.  TfL recognises the need for openness and transparency within public authorities and the degree of public interest concerning Barclays’ sponsorship of the Cycle Hire Scheme. However, the public interest in avoiding prejudice to TfL’s ability to provide the Scheme and obtain the best value for public money from any future financial negotiations that may take place regarding sponsorship is considerable and it is considered at this time that the balance of the public interest favours the use of the exemption.

b) Local Councils/Boroughs.
£1.5m has been received to date. The total funding is £2m for committed cycle hire expansions .

c) The GLA.
No funding has been received from the GLA.

d) Central Government.
There is no specific grant from central government for the cycle hire scheme.

e) Westfield London.
Nothing has been received to date.  However, £4m is due as part of the phase 2 implementation costs and £0.5m for operational costs.

f) Any other corporate sponsors.
There are no other corporate sponsors.

2. Please could you also inform me of the number of cycle hire members to date, and the approximate revenue made from users of the scheme so far?
The total number of members who have signed up to the scheme since inception stands at 148,320.  Please note this information is correct as of the week ending 2 March 2012.

Scheme income from members to date since inception is £7.5m.