Street-side advertising specialist JCDecaux refused to accept payments to keep its bus shelters in place in Croydon until replacements could be ready, according to a senior member of the council.
Muhammad Ali is the council cabinet member for “sustainable” Croydon.
He has responded to widespread public criticism of the new “smart” shelters, which were supposed to be installed by autumn 2021, by revealing that the council’s efforts to continue with the existing street furniture were thwarted when JCDecaux refused to agree a deal with Town Hall officials.
Croydon bus passengers face a cold, wet and windy winter waiting for their public transport, after JCDecaux removed more than 180 shelters from around the borough in April and May this year.
The Labour councillor told Inside Croydon that the council encountered “challenging contractual arrangements” which had hampered the transition from one supplier to another.
“JCDecaux didn’t win the contract and they decided to pull out all their existing shelters without working with the new contractor and the council.
“They were even offered compensation to leave [the old shelters] in and work towards a transition to new shelters, but they didn’t want to work on that.
“JCDecaux’s unilateral decision did not help.
“However the new shelters, when installed, will be better than JCDecaux’s and will generate revenue for the council 10 times that of JCDecaux’s per year.” Croydon says that its 10-year deal with Valo Smart City will bring in £6.75million to the cash-strapped council over the term of the contract.
Councillor Ali did not answer a specific question of how much revenue will be lost in this financial year, 2021-2022, due to the failure to have advertising sites in place on the borough’s bus shelters this year.
“Due to challenging contractual arrangements, transition from one to another didn’t go as planned,” he said. “Revenue from this contract can potentially cover what has been lost.” Which does seem to suggest that the council is receiving zero advertising revenue this year.
“This contract will bring more revenue than the previous one,” he said.
But Ali added, “I am very excited about the arrival of these smart bus shelters, which will make residents’ travel experiences more enjoyable, informative and safer.
“The smart city sensors will also act as a great tool in our continued mission to become a greener, more sustainable borough.
“Our partnership with innovators Valo will be our latest step towards Croydon becoming not only a digital council but the first truly connected smart borough which uses technology to enhance and transform the lives of our residents for the better.”
The council issued a press release from its propaganda department on Thursday which confirmed Inside Croydon’s previous reports the deal with Valo – a company which,in this country, did not even exist until August 2020 – just seven months before JCDecaux’s shelter contract in Croydon expired on March 31 this year.
Despite previous council promises that installation works for the replacement shelters would be done in “autumn 2021”, and then in December this year, the latest statement said that the roll-out would not now begin until March 2022, at the earliest.
Someone in the press department failed to think through their publicity guff.
Accompanying their banal verbal blandishments, the council issued a computer-generated image of one of the “smart” shelters positioned outside… the Fairfield Halls, the same arts venue where a council-led refurbishment project has collapsed into a costly fiasco which is expected to see the council become the subject of an auditors’ Report In The Public Interest over failures to control the procurement process and poor levels of management.
Or maybe the juxtaposition with another costly council disaster was entirely deliberate. And ominously appropriate.
Read more: Council’s £6.8m bus shelter deal with 9-month-old tech firm
Read more: Councillor tells officials: ‘Apologise for this incompetence’
Read more: Bus passengers face a wet winter of discontent with no shelters
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