Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Transport authority given 'wider remit' despite protest

Unite Lothian Buses protest
Image caption A protest was earlier held by Lothian buses staff outside Edinburgh City Chambers

Plans to give Transport for Edinburgh (TfE) more powers have been given the go-head despite objections from Lothian Buses staff.

Workers fear that profits from the company could be used to fund the £145m tramline extension to Leith as TfE owns Edinburgh Trams.

They are also concerned that TfE could sell the firm to a private company.

But Edinburgh's transport leader said the council was committed to keeping Lothian Buses in public ownership.

Councillor Lesley Hinds said: "The day-to-day running of our excellent and well-loved Lothian Buses company is, and will still be, the responsibility of the Lothian Buses board."

Lothian buses is one of the last remaining municipal bus companies in the UK.

The City of Edinburgh Council's transport committee met to discuss giving TfE a "wider remit" to "integrate" the city's transport system and councillors voted in favour of pushing ahead with proposals.

Ahead of the meeting, Lothian Buses staff protested against the move outside Edinburgh City Chambers.

'Extremely disappointed'

The Unite union, which represents the workers, have urged people to tell their councillors not to go ahead with the plans.

Its regional officer Tony Trench said: "We are extremely disappointed with this decision and are increasingly concerned about the lack of transparency over this process.

"During the meeting it was said that there would be no effect on the day-to-day running of Lothian Buses. But after the meeting, TfE chief executive George Lowder told us that we may end up with one board running both Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams."

But Ms Hinds said this would not be the case and that under Scottish government legislation Lothian Buses board would still be responsible for the company.

TfE currently holds the city council's shares in Lothian Buses which has its own management, and reports directly to the council.

Mr Trench said Unite's campaign against the changes would continue and said he would be speaking to other Lothian councils that have shares in Lothian buses.

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