Officers provided a verbal update on the topic of Asset Sponsorship, covering two main areas; a status report on roundabout sponsorships and the progress made with Clear Channel who operate bus stops.
The Commercial Coordinator for the Council provided Members with background information on asset sponsorships; highlighting that it had been recognised over the years that there was potential income generation opportunities presented by assets such as roundabouts, roadside verges, lighting columns etc.
Members were advised that after a tender process in 2011, the Council chose to outsource the management and sales function of providing advertising opportunities on roundabouts to generate funding, to a company called Immediate Solutions; the first advertisement was put up in Neath Port Talbot (NPT) in 2012, and in June 2017 the Council extended the contract for a further four years. It was noted that during the first few years of the contract extension, the revenues matched expectations; however, not long after, the revenue started to decrease.
It was explained that after consulting with various Members and Officers, the Council chose to hand in the three months’ notice of contract termination to Immediate Solutions; it was felt that this work could be elevated by bringing it in-house, and various opportunities for customers could be explored, as well as generating more income than what had been received previously.
The Committee was informed that at the end of June 2021, the contract with Immediate Solutions expired; since then the Council had been novating contracts over for the existing sponsored roundabouts, and establishing the portfolio and systems that needed to be put in place in order to offer those opportunities to local customers. The various benefits of operating this locally were highlighted; including being able to read the market to understand what businesses want to advertise, being able to respond much quicker when something goes wrong, and generating more income.
A summary was provided, in which the Committee was informed that the Commercial Coordinator had been in contact with potential customers for roundabout advertisement in the area, and had a number of orders lined up.
Bus Stop Advertising
Officers explained that a company called Clear Channel currently sells the bus stop advertising in NPT; the Council owned the majority of the structures of the bus shelters in the County Borough, and Clear Channel own around 10.
It was stated that the Council had a replicable agreement in place with Clear Channel in which they were to maintain and repair any damages to the bus shelters that they used for advertisement; this was in return for allowing them to do so.
Members were informed that the Commercial Coordinator recently carried out research in regards to bus stop advertisement, and found that other Local Authorities received commission on them; following this, Officers proceeded to go through the relevant processes in order for NPT Council to obtain commission. It was highlighted that a recommendation had been made to re-sign a further five year agreement with Clear Channel, however this time with a set amount of money included as part of the contract; including a set annual fee for every poster that they wish to change to a digital screen. Officers stated that the digital screens were growing in popularity; the company had an ambitious roll out to change many of the posters in prime locations, to digital screens. It was added that Officers were moving forward on this recommendation; Senior Officers were currently looking over the detail.
Other Key Areas of Work
In addition to the above, it was highlighted that the Commercial Coordinator had been speaking to small local businesses, and found that there were very few opportunities for them to advertise and promote themselves; for example, bus shelter advertisements were mainly utilised by national companies and were quite expensive. Officers mentioned that because of this, some small businesses will use illegal fly posters and/or banners to advertise. In order to reduce the use of illegal advertisement, Officers were hoping to create smaller, short term opportunities for local advertisement at a cheaper cost; the Council could manage the inventory and generate income from this, as well as supporting its local businesses.
A discussion took place in regards to the health and safety risks of the illegal forms of outdoor advertisement such as banners. It was confirmed that Officers were working on a policy which will cover all the relevant elements relating to this matter; however, enforcement of illegal signage went hand in hand with having opportunities to offer these business. It was added that providing local businesses with advertisement opportunities could help to reduce the amount of illegal advertisement; and the policy will provide consistency and assist in controlling the matters, and will be a document which all parties can understand and refer to.
Members asked if there was potential for income to be generated for sponsorships in other ways. Officers confirmed that there were endless opportunities of creating revenue; Local Authorities had a 100% reach of their audience, the residents of the area, and one of the main tasks was to find different ways to connect with them.
In addition to generating income, it was also noted that aiding communication between local businesses and local customers was important; Councils can create and sell opportunities independently, and by supporting local businesses, it helps to put the money back into the community.
It was highlighted that the work around asset sponsorship, and supporting local business provided the opportunity for individuals to obtain a sense of place and community; there were many benefits to this such as improving the local environment and adding links to tourism.
The Commercial Coordinator was commended for their hard work on asset sponsorships, and Members welcomed further updates in the future.
Following scrutiny, the update was noted.