Boris Johnson is facing calls to publish City Hall’s full cycle hire sponsorship contract with Barclays Bank following a BBC report questioning the benefits to Londoners of the agreement.
Yesterday the Mayor announced an extension of the sponsorship deal, originally due to expire in 2015, to 2018 and said the bank would provide a further £25m towards the hire scheme.
City Hall Liberal Democrats want the Mayor to explain why he agreed the extension “without the new contract going out to tender so that other expressions of interest by other commercial organisations could be considered?”
London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon has written to the Mayor asking him to answer the following questions:
“1. Why was a decision made to extend the sponsorship contract with Barclays from 2015 to 2018, without the new contract going out to tender so that other expressions of interest by other commercial organisations could be considered? Why was a decision specifically made to not test the market and see whether far more sponsorship income could be generated from 2015 onwards?
2. Could you explain why after just one year of the current contract being completed you are certain that Barclays will definitely meet their contractual obligations over the next four years?
3. Before a sponsorship deal was achieved is it true that you personally made only one direct approach to a bank – that of Barclays – to encourage them to consider sponsoring the cycle hire scheme? If this is true why was no consideration given to approaching a number of banks or other organisations? Was no consideration given to encouraging a “bidding war” for the sponsorship of the cycle hire scheme?
4. Following the advertisement placed in the Official Journal of the EU in Spring of 2009 inviting applicants to sponsor the cycle hire scheme, which did not lead to a successful sponsor, do you believe the legal procedures were correctly followed in the further stages that were taken, in subsequently seeking a sponsor? To help clarify matters, it would be useful if you published a detailed timeline showing how the final contract was advertised, applicants considered and the decision ultimately made in accepting Barclays as a sponsor.
5. Can you confirm whether it is the case that the details of the contract finally agreed with Barclays exclude any other bank from sponsoring a Mayoral cycling event?
6. Can you clarify the exact arrangements as to what access to personal data of cycle hire users Barclays have?
7. What is your response to the claim that the commercial benefits for Barclays of the sponsorship arrangement are for each year estimated to be between £9 and £15 million? Considering this information do you believe that the contract, and your extension of it with Barclays, is ultimately a good commercial deal for TfL and Londoners?
8. Can you explain why your office has refused to answer a freedom of information request, asked in mid May, requesting details of all meetings you have held with Barclays since May 2008? The request for this information has now passed the statutory deadline over 20 working days ago and is obviously a serious breach of the freedom of information act. Please provide this information by return.
9. What evaluation was undertaken by TfL before deciding on the current expansion of the cycle hire scheme west and southwest? Please provide full details.
10. I understand you are working on “Phase 3″ of the Cycle Hire Scheme at the moment. Please can you tell me what areas you are considering for this expansion, and set out the criteria you are using for your final decision? Will you agree to consult with Londoners before making any further decisions?”
Pidgeon has also called on the Mayor to “publish in its entirety the contract that you have agreed with Barclays Bank.”
The level of publicity the bank receives from City Hall and Transport for London has prompted accusations that it is the largest beneficiary of the sponsorship deal.
A City Hall press release issued on Thursday contained 39 instances of the bank’s name, in the same press release Transport for London and TfL collectively appear just 7 times.