The scandal surrounding Barclays's manipulation of the inter-bank lending rate has filtered down to London's streets – literally. Questions are being asked about whether they're an appropriate sponsor for the Cycle Hire scheme.
The bikes have the bank's logo plastered all over them in a sponsorship deal that's worth a maximum of £50m to 2018. London Assembly Member Jenny Jones told politics.co.uk
They are not the sort of people we want to be associated with. It would have been good to set up smaller sponsors who were ethically in line with the concept.
A report from the London Assembly earlier this year looked at TfL's sponsorship policy in the wake of the Wonga/New Year travel deal, and carries this prescient comment:
TfL’s new sponsorship policy should also set out how it would manage a situation where a sponsor suffered major reputational damage
Barclays is in trouble because its derivatives traders lied to manipulate the Libor rate – the interest rate at which banks lend to each other – either to increase their profits or to hide how badly the bank was doing. (The last time Libor was in the headlines was during the credit crunch, when banks mistrusted each other so much that Libor shot up and the whole banking system froze.) During Wednesday's Talk London event, Boris Johnson joked that he'd be able to squeeze Barclays for another £50m but by Thursday morning struck a more sober note, saying it "looks to me like a very, very dodgy practice indeed".
Assembly members say they'll question the Mayor over the appropriateness of Barclays continuing to sponsor such a high profile scheme at Question Time on Wednesday. With sponsorship so tightly linked into the brand new cable car, is it time to reconsider the strategy of hitching so many high profile transport projects to private companies, with all their potential to go horribly wrong?
Photo by Strikealight from the Londonist Flickr pool