Camden to wrap Town Hall in adverts to cover Olympic funds gap

The 2012 Olympics could change the very landscape of the borough - with Camden Council looking to wrap one of its buildings in advertising.

The council is seeking to sell advertising space on the Town Hall Extension in Argyle Street in preparation for next summer’s Games, following a disappointing funding announcement.

Camden will get �260,000 to cover costs during the Olympics - less than 10 per cent of what it bid for from the Greater London Authority and the Government Olympic Executive.

Culture boss Cllr Tulip Siddiq said: “This (funding) is evidently a very poor deal for Camden. We have not received a fraction of our original bid. We’re going to struggle enormously with our limited resources.”

Council bosses are considering rolling out the money-making advertising ploy to other council-owned buildings to offset the additional cost of the games.

Buildings could be covered in projected adverts, like those at the National Theatre on the Southbank, or more traditional printed advertising.

The council has claimed the Games will cost the borough at least �2million in extra costs, such as heightened security concerns at St Pancras Station where 10,000 people an hour will be passing through.

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But the council warned profit margins for sale of adverts on council buildings would need to be significant for the scheme to become widespread and it was unlikely to be continued after the Olympics.

A spokeswoman said: “We will look to secure a deal that will generate significant income for the council at a time when our finances are under severe pressure.

“We have not entered into any agreements, but are hopeful of doing so around the end of the year.

“We are also exploring opportunities to generate income from other council buildings, and from our parks and open spaces.

“The Olympics will be a one-off event, the likes of which London will not see again for decades.

“Our prime location means we have the chance to generate significant revenue from selling advertising for a few weeks, reducing the costs on the council and therefore the taxpayers of the borough.”

But the Conservative opposition believe the council should go further and endorse the principle not only during the Olympics.

Opposition finance spokesman Cllr Don Williams said he believed the council could raise �500,000 if it converted empty space in council facilities as an advertising opportunity.

“It’s absolutely a missed opportunity,” he said. “We should be doing things for the betterment of people in the borough and helping our residents by developing this new source of income to take the strain off residents.

“I can understand that the council may not be comfortable with advertising and may not have the technical skills, but we can partner with other organisations and make revenue that way.

“It’s a quick and effective way of coming out of this crisis and I cannot understand why we’re not looking at rolling it out across the borough.”