Sunday 14 December 2008

Council probe may put brakes on secret bike deal

A LUCRATIVE advertising contract given to a French company for Dublin city in exchange for 450 public bicycles is to be scrutinised by an independent audit committee, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

Concerns have surrounded the deal between Dublin City Council and JC Decaux – understood to be worth around €1m per year – as a result of strict secrecy regarding its content.

JC Decaux is set to provide the capital with the free bicycles to be used by the public, as well as some tourist signage, in exchange for 72 advertising billboards.

The deal has come under fire by politicians and business groups, many of whom believe that the public are not getting value for money.

However, a degree of transparency is finally expected following a decision last week to expose the details of the contract to an independent audit committee at Dublin City Council.

Amongst those charged with examining the agreement are senior figures at UCD, DIT and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountability.

Last year a new brand of local authority audit committees were established, allowing independent monitoring of the financial workings of a council under the expert guidance of external committee members.

Concern over the arrangement led to an application for the contract to be examined by the audit committee.

Committee members who will examine the deal include Tom McAleese of Chambers Ireland, UCD vice president for capital and commer-
cial development Eamonn Ceannt, Dublin Institute of Technology president Brian Norton, William Carrie of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountability and Dublin City
Councillors Dermot Lacey, Gerry Breen and Michael Donnelly.

Cllr Lacey, who put forward the application to have the contracts examined, said it was "unsatisfactory that public representatives were left guessing as to the exact nature of the agreement."

Sunday Tribune

No comments: