Questions raised over Thames cable car deal

Emirates Air Line launch photo.jpgLondon Assembly member John Biggs has asked Mayor of London Boris Johnson for further details about Emirates Airlines sponsorship of the Thames cable car.

Mr Johnson unveiled Emirates as the scheme's sponsor last Friday, with the airline paying £36million over 10 years for branding rights.

But Mr Biggs, who represents City and East for Labour, has written to the Mayor asking for details on how the deal came about, and he claimed that the Mayor should have got more money for the project, which could cost as much as £59million to build.

At a meeting at City Hall yesterday Mr Biggs said the deal was less than the £52million Emirates gave to AC Milan Football Club over four years and the £100million they paid to sponsor Arsenal's stadium over fifteen years.

When he announced the scheme last year, Mr Johnson had promised that it would be paid for entirely by private funds, but all upfront building costs have had to be met from TfL's budget.

During yesterday's meeting the Mayor refused to answer questions about the bidding process.

Mr Biggs said: "The Mayor thinks that this is a good deal for London and I think that he has sold us short once again.

"I have today written to ask him for the full details of all the bids that were received so Londoners can take a view on whether this deal represents value for money or not.

"He has broken his promise that this could all be done without a penny of public money. The problem is that there are many other urgent things it could be spent on, like keeping fares down or improving the services Londoners actually use every day."

Emirates Airline's £36m sponsorship deal will include the renaming of the link as the Emirates Air Line, a specially designed iconic roundel, a joint logo incorporating the Air Line roundel and Emirates branding and inclusion of the name of Air Line and its two stations Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and Emirates Royal Victoria on the London Tube map.

Last Friday Mr Johnson told The Wharf: "You've got to be realistic and say it's a healthy sum in tough times. We've got a good deal and they got a good deal. It's a good sum and enables us to give London a cable car that it needs."

The cable car will span a 1.1km stretch of the Thames between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks. It will cost at least £45million to build and could be completed in time for next year's Olympics.