Dung beetles and racoons at London Zoo, dustbins and roundabouts in Milton Keynes. Is there anything you cannot sponsor these days? Milton Keynes borough council, faced with £6 million cut from their annual budget, has put some council services up for sponsorship in a desperate attempt to raise funds. Roundabouts are proving a popular option, with some 107 of the town's 400 of them available.
Cost depends on location. The maximum, £5000 a year, gives the sponsor a prime spot on the A5. Ten sponsors have already been secured, including Wimpey Homes, Unisys and Olivetti, their logos and company names discreetly in place above the roundabout's name.
The apparent benefits are good community relations and brand awareness. Alan Watson, managing director of Olivetti UK, sponsors of the £2,000 Greenleas roundabout, says: 'The town is so skilfully landscaped that there are no visible landmarks to direct people. You can't say turn left at the Red Lion, but now we can say "turn off at the Olivetti roundabout".' Other councils, including Birmingham, Watford and York, have shown an interest in adopting the scheme but, not having Milton Keynes's propensity to have you going round in circles, it remains to be seen if it will take off. But, with annual revenues from the scheme expected to reach £1 million in future years, perhaps it is not such a roundabout way of raising cash.