Fare and taxpayers will be able to better scrutinise Transport for London’s sponsorship agreements after a senior manager announced plans to drop the routine signing of confidentiality clauses.
The body has repeatedly hindered scrutiny of both contracts by delaying answers to FOI requests and refusing to answer others on the grounds that it had agreed confidentiality clauses with the sponsors.
In August 2012 TfL said revealing the amount of money received from Barclays “would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of Barclays and TfL.”
It also claimed that: “Disclosing the precise terms of payment would be detrimental to future tenders for the Cycle Hire scheme sponsorship, and would make it more difficult for TfL to maximise the value of other sponsorship opportunities.”
Despite claiming that transparency would have an adverse affect on public value, TfL later backtracked and revealed that only £13.43m out of the promised £50m sponsorship sum had been paid by March 2012.
It also revealed the frequency and terms of payment previously refused under FOI exemption.
In a letter to the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee, TfL’s Commercial Development Director Graeme Craig has now signalled a more open stance to publishing information.
Mr Craig’s letter confirms TfL is developing a new sponsorship code in line with recommendations in the Committee’s 2012 report ‘Whose brand is it anyway?’
The report called for a “clearer, more consistent and transparent” approach to sponsorship and for TfL to make “greater transparency a requirement of the sponsorship tender process.”
Mr Craig’s letter suggests the new code will drop the routine use of confidentiality clauses, ensuring the public has more information about the contracts TfL enters into.
His letter states: “TfL supports the recommendations made by the Committee; indeed they align with TfL’s proposed plans. The one caveat is that TfL’s pre-existing sponsorship contracts contain confidentiality clauses that hinder our ability to retrospectively publish information that we would aim to share in all future contracts.”
Future sponsorship deals are expected to start with a prospectus setting out the specific rights bidders could expect in return for their funding, with “on-line information” supporting the process.
There would also be a “template sponsorship agreement” to ensure all deals start from a common position, although the agreement would be open to amendment as part of the negotiation process.
TfL is also looking to increase non-fares revenue with new property development, retail, vending and ATM initiatives.
Mr Craig will appear in front of the Committee on Tuesday morning when he’ll be questioned about the new sponsorship code and TfL’s selection of future sponsors.
The meeting will take place on Tuesday 16 April from 10am in Committee Room 5 at City Hall. A webcast of the meeting will also be available via london.gov.uk.