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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MP & Assembly Members criticise free New Year's Eve travel sponsor

Bloggers were quick to note that TfL have been pretty quiet about the identity of this year's free New Year's Eve Tube, bus and DLR co-sponsor. Probably because it's Wonga - the online loan company whose interest rates range from 444% to nearly 3,000% in some cases.

Wonga sponsor Free New Year's Eve Travel

Adam Bienkov aka Torytroll said "Now I know sponsorship is hard to find, but should the Mayor really be encouraging London's most desperate and needy to get themselves into even more debt over the Christmas period?"

Jeanette Arnold, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly said "People in desperate need subsidising free New Year's travel in London - not surprised Mayor's office is staying quiet. It's a total disgrace."  Green Party Assembly Member Jenny Jones said "The Mayor of London must understand promoting 2689% borrowing is stupid and dangerous."

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow has written an open letter to Boris Johnson asking him to change his mind over the deal. She said: "I've tabled legislation to try to deal with the worst excesses of these companies and protect the poorest consumers in the capital but Wonga have written to me opposing these proposals. ... MPs of all parties agree with me that something should be done to tackle these problems and are supporting these proposals."

Mayorwatch asked the Mayor's Office to comment, his request was passed onto to TfL who made the following statement "Transport for London (TfL) each year seeks support for the provision of free travel on New Year’s Eve between 11.45pm and 4:30am.

Wonga.com is making a contribution in support of free travel for this New Year’s Eve, and is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading and regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

In the past Nat West, and ING Direct have sponsored the free travel. Before that drinks companies like Fosters and Smirnoff were the lead sponsors.  Boris's booze ban on public transport probably put a stop to that.

I wonder how many New Year's revellers are going to care or even notice who's getting them home for free? Is it right for MPs to take the moral high ground on this? Or does it bother people that loan sharks (or their online equivalents) are potentially being seen as benevolent over the festive season? How many people would rather pay for travel that night than have it partially sponsored by Wonga?

Perhaps this time next year, free New Year's Eve travel will be sponsored by one of the many "cash 4 gold" companies! Would that be worse?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, December 21, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE