Monday 11 November 2013

Souter talks of 'Stalinists who are completely driven by political dogma'

In a hard hitting response to questions about a possible Quality Contract in Tyne & Wear Sir Brian Souter has said “We are dealing with a bunch of unreconstructed Stalinists who are completely driven by political dogma,”

 Sir Brian Souter
Sir Brian Souter has repeated his threat to close Stagecoach’s bus business in Tyne & Wear if Nexus introduces a Quality Contract in the region – claiming that it is essential that the group takes a “robust” line on the issue.
Responding to a question from the audience at a CILT event in London this week, the Stagecoach chairman said that in his eyes it is an issue of “integrity”.
“They sold the bus companies to us in the first place, knowing what the system was,” he explained. “They took the money off us [and] we bought it in good faith.
“We have invested in it every year. We have, I think, had one day or two days industrial stoppage in the two decades that we have been running it.”
He said that Stagecoach had sought to grow bus use in Tyne & Wear by lobbying Nexus with ideas for Park & Ride and guided busways, but he said that these proposals had fallen on deaf ears.
“We are dealing with a bunch of unreconstructed Stalinists who are completely driven by political dogma,” said Souter, who warned that Stagecoach would not hand over its assets to Nexus if it began phasing in Quality Contracts.

 One of the 500 buses that Sir Brian says he will withdraw
from the region. Stagecoach have invested heavily
in Tyne & Wear since buying the company.
He said: “The first contract that they put out on my business I’m out of Tyne & Wear completely, and they can buy 500 buses and find four bus depots. And when they do that, they’ll find that what I am delivering with my 500 buses and my four bus depots, and my fantastic workforce, is actually very good value for money.
“That’s why I am so hard on the issue, because unless you’re prepared to be as robust as that, then you’ll have your business taken off you incrementally. They’ll pick the bits that they want … and you’ll be left with a carcass – and I’m not waiting around … to watch it happen.”

Speaking at the same event, Roger French, the former managing director of Brighton & Hove, said: “I am just convinced it will end up in court and we [the bus operators] will win.”

The deadline for comments on the proposed scheme has been extended to 22nd November.