‘Ere’s a funny fing, missus.
Last December, Barclay’s Bank decided to withdraw their support for Boris bikes, in order to spend more time robbing their customers.
Five days later, an unabashed Boris announced that the scheme would double in size. But there is still no sponsor for any of this.
On top of that, Boris’s team has just released the journey-time audit for his new Cycles SuperHighway through the City of London. Equally unabashed, the Mayor accepts that some things will have to change in the plan. Those big of wig in the Square Mile are worried about increased journey times for the folks in cars….and obviously, BoJo must harken unto the words of those he loves.
As Tom Pride pointed out earlier this week, the spending decisions about all of this will be chaired by TfL board member Peter Anderson. When not chairing enquiries and attending TfL board meetings, Mr Anderson is Finance Director of Canary Wharf Group plc.
Canary Wharf Group plc have been active (albeit anonymous) lobbyists against the scheme. Feels like a bit of a conflict of interest that one, but Guardian blogger Dave Hill thinks it’s all a bit overblown: yesterday he noted, ‘Labour vice chair Val Shawcross stressed to seemingly general assent that Anderson has conducted himself impeccably over the superhighways, which enjoy full cross-party support’. And if Labour v-c Val says it’s OK, who are we to argue?
The bit I don’t quite follow is why Anderson can’t simply withdraw from the meeting while the expenditure is being discussed. I have to assume that, being a finance chap, Anderson knows that a proposal TfL can’t afford and one loathed by Canary Wharf would be very bad news. And hard for him to swallow, being The Man in two seats at once.
Already, of three ambitious new bike schemes from Borisconi, two have been dropped, and the third delayed. There is still no white smoke on the subject of sponsors new (the tendering closed three weeks ago) although Sky ran a piece on Tuesday this week saying it could well be Coca-Cola. Boris is, as we all know, uncommonly close to Sky, but Coke called the piece “speculation”. TfL’s head of sponsorship said the Board had “received a number of interesting proposals” but didn’t specify what the number was, as such.
A few dates to note for your diary:
November 2014: TfL committee chaired by Anderson to make decision on City superhighway
May 2015, General Election, Boris Johnson to be crowned King of Ruislip.
August 2015: Barclays contract with TfL bikes ends.
Are we, I wonder, confusing Boris Johnson with someone who givesAF?