09 October 2009

First Thoughts

"This whole thing seems to be a total disaster”

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Live and Kicking
Leon Daniels
Bus and Coach

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Interesting comment left on a recent post was that the main players left in the process are Stagecoach and Go Ahead. I have heard this from a couple of other sources too, although it is still just a rumour until anything gets confirmed!

The bidding process set up by Plymouth City Council to find out how much Plymouth Citybus is worth has been "a shambles" and could end up costing "many millions of pounds", Marc Reddy, managing director of First Devon and Cornwall, said yesterday.

Mr Reddy said the council had released so much commercially confidential information that it should abort the process and start again. At the same time Cllr Ian Bowyer, the city's Cabinet member for finance, told The Herald that a consortium led by Plymouth taxi boss John Preece was "no longer in the running". And a report to the Cabinet revealed that the council had received several bids "well in excess of £10million".

"They need to sit back and say to themselves: If we're serious about selling, let's restart the whole process," Mr Reddy said. "Or they could decide to keep the asset and let it pay a dividend every year. They don't have to sell. There's no shame in that.

"The whole process has left me gobsmacked. That they let John Preece know that his consortium wasn't shortlisted through The Herald. "They've even mentioned prices. This is a process that should be totally confidential.

"The council has said it is prepared to spend just under £1million on this process. "The price will run into many millions when you take into account legal fees and the way it is likely to drag out. "This whole thing seems to be a total disaster.

First is in the middle of a programme of developing new services, but Mr Reddy denied that he was deliberately targeting Citybus to spoil the sell-off. He said First had looked at the market and begun a programme of investment in April 2008. Since then, the company had boosted passenger numbers by 7.3 per cent. "I'm not trying to target Citybus in any way. It's just about trying to develop something new and attractive – and with simpler routes and timetables."

He said he was surprised that the council wanted to sell Citybus. "If it's such a good asset, why are they selling it – particularly in a recession?" The council spokesman said: "The exercise to find out the value of Citybus has been carried out in a fair and transparent way and expert advice and support has been used throughout. "We have always been aware of the possibility of legal challenges which is why we have ensured we have followed a very robust process.

This is Plymouth

As usual the comments left on are pretty entertaining, my favourite being

“Can we keep Citybus and sell the council?”

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