Saturday, 5 December 2009

Bus Company Turn-a-round

It is hoped that a 'shake-up' in the management structure of the publicly-owned Reading Transport Ltd will bring bring recent turmoil at the company to the end of the line.

Chief Executive James Freeman confirmed the departure of operations and finance directors Sam Simpson and James Carney explaining that the moved is hoped to save the company nearly £1,000 per week as the company reported a reduction in turnover of more than 10%.

The announcement lead to renewed debate between political parties when it was discussed at a meeting of the council cabinet.

Labour chairperson of Reading Buses Cllr Stuart Singleton-White said the move was essential to keeping services going, but Conservative leader Cllr Andrew Cumpsty demanded to know why the changes were only happening now when it was in trouble.

Labour deputy leader Cllr Tony Page struck back, arguing that the troubles were the delayed consequences of a botched reorganisation more than a decade ago after the last recession and reiterated his commitment to a publicly-owned transport company.

He raised the spectre of a earlier Conservative plans to privatise the company, explaining that most towns would 'love' to own their own transport.

Public ownership enables the public to hold the business accountable through elected representatives and thereby make changes which are in the public interest.

Meanwhile LibDem leader Cllr Kirsten Bayes heralded the move as a 'fresh start' for the company which will strengthen leadership on the board.

In a separate move the maintenance contract for Reading's bus shelters will be changed after a report exposed a "lack of high quality maintenance regime" by Clearchannel, which was described as "a real disincentive" to passengers.

JC Deceaux has been awarded the £80,000 contract from January 2010.


Update: A public meeting to discuss the proposed changes to bus services in Woodley has been organised. It will be held at Bulmershe youth centre on Friday 11th December.


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