The decision to accept sponsorship from high interest loans company Wonga.com for London’s free New Year’s Eve travel has led to calls for a code of ethics governing for future sponsorship and advertising deals.
A motion agreed by the London Assembly branded the deal “irresponsible” and calls on the Mayor, who also chairs Transport for London, to “publish a robust code of ethics for sponsorship and advertising to more closely regulate the types of advertising that can appear on public transport.”
The motion, which was proposed Labour’s Jennette Arnold and seconded by Green Party AM Darren Johnson, was passed by a majority of AMs although Conservative members of the Assembly voted against or abstained.
Ms Arnold said adverts for ‘quick cash’ could “be very tempting to the vulnerable and desperate, but can lead to people finding themselves in serious financial difficulty if they can’t meet the very challenging repayment terms.
“I believe the Mayor as the Chair of TfL should publish a robust code of ethics that forbids advertising for this type of service on the transport network.”
Mr Johnson added: “There have been instances in the past where Transport for London has refused specific adverts on moral or ethical grounds, but it needs to set out more clearly exactly what is and isn’t acceptable. As the owner of the advertising space, TfL has a duty to uphold certain standards.”
The full text of the amended motion reads as follows:
“This Assembly deplores Mayor Boris Johnson’s recent decision to sell prime-time advertising space on London’s Buses and Tubes to a Loan Company known for charging 2689% APR. Consumers can easily get into difficulties using these kinds of loans to cover debts, and when unable to repay in a timely fashion the interest rates and fines can be punitive. The Assembly believes it is irresponsible for politicians and public organisations to be endorsing these services, particularly at a time of year when many Londoners are vulnerable to getting into further debt, and when there are other services that offer Londoners a much safer route out of debt.