Business 'theft'

McGill’s in legal threat over SPT franchising plan

McGill’s is unhappy with SPT plan

McGill’s Group, the UK’s largest independent bus company, has warned it will pursue legal action if Strathclyde Partnership for Transport pushes ahead with a franchising plan.

SPT said it will take a “dual approach” to change the way the bus network is organised in the Greater Glasgow area.

McGill’s, owned by brothers Sandy and James Easdale, said this would amount to ‘theft of a private business’ that would ill-serve passengers and taxpayers and “go against every sense of natural justice”

In an interview, the chief executive of SPT, Valerie Davidson, refused to comment on the £100 million of taxpayers’ money it would cost every year to put franchising in place.

McGill’s Group CEO, Ralph Roberts, said: “With a £1billion black hole in the Scottish economy, I cannot imagine how they are going to find £100m per year to subsidise franchised bus services in Strathclyde.

“Franchising is effectively confiscation of a business that has been built in good faith over many years with investors funds and it raises a host of legal implications.

“It goes against every sense of natural justice and we would take this to every court in the land and beyond.

“Franchising can be introduced in a different way and our opposition to it will be absolute until the threat of theft of a private business is lifted.

“Bus use is declining because local authorities haven’t done their job to help bus users. I see nothing from franchising that will change this and unless councillors are willing to make the kind of tough decisions made in other places, particularly in prioritising buses over private cars, then this will be a very expensive waste of money for the taxpayer.

“Politicians want to play fast and loose with taxpayers’ cash, as we have seen over ferries, Prestwick Airport and the deposit return scheme. They have no idea how to run a bus company and should address the issues that are in their control.”

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