“There are also risks to TfL’s reputation if the branding of public assets is deemed to be excessive, from choosing inappropriate sponsors, or if sponsors suffer major reputational damage.”
So warned the London Assembly in it’s February 2012 report Whose brand is it anyway? – An Examination of TfL’s Sponsorship Policy.
Assembly Members reported that during their investigation TfL was “unclear about how it would protect its image and brands” if a sponsor suffered such damage.
Complacency always to the fore, TfL told AMs “if this happened it would be entitled to terminate the contract but also that it wouldn’t deal with a company where this was a ‘conceivable possibility’”.
It’s now clear that Barclays – the junior funder of the Cycle Hire scheme but beneficiary of all the PR – has indeed “suffered major reputational damage” following reports of its interest rate fixing scam.
Will today’s headlines prompt TfL to end its association with Barclays? Probably not.
At last night’s Talk London event Mayor Boris Johnson, who is also Chair of TfL, appeared to suggest the bank could make good its behaviour by offering up another £50m in sponsorship funds.
Any such extension of Barclays’ involvement in the scheme would be unacceptable.
If TfL and Boris cannot bring themselves to fully part with their banker chums, they should at least insist on renegotiating the contract to reduce the amount of taxpayer funded PR the bank benefits from.
The bank is one funding partner out of many and its promised £50m over several years comes nowhere close to meeting all costs.
Given how tarnished Barclays’ brand is, it’s vital TfL now finally stop deceiving Londoners and set the record straight by reducing the prominence of the bank’s brand to reflect the reality that it merely supports the scheme alongside fare-payers and local councils.
Update: What if charges are brought? Boris is now the civilian head of the Met Police which is likely to be involved in any investigation. Could he as Chair of TfL continue taking money from a company facing criminal proceedings by his own cops?