Bus chairman sacked

ROWS over bus routes around the town have claimed their biggest casualty with the sacking of Ipswich Buses chairman Phil Smart.Mr Smart lost his role when the board of the council-owned company, now dominated by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, passed a motion of no confidence in him at a meeting last night .

By Paul Geater

ROWS over bus routes around the town have claimed their biggest casualty with the sacking of Ipswich Buses chairman Phil Smart.

Mr Smart lost his role when the board of the council-owned company, now dominated by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, passed a motion of no confidence in him at a meeting last night .

The new chairman is council transport spokesman and former Tory parliamentary candidate Paul West, who along with fellow Conservative Bill Wright and Liberal Democrat Inga Lockington had tabled the motion of no confidence before last night's meeting.

The boardroom coup led opposition Labour councillors to claim that cuts to services in the town next spring were now inevitable.

Labour group leader David Ellesmere said: “This decision by the board means we will see cuts to services next year. Phil was working very hard to keep the network and this is bad news for passengers.

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“No one knows more about Ipswich Buses than Phil Smart and this is a clear indication that the Tories and Liberals are not interested in the town's bus services.”

Mr West said the vote was taken following a debate on the motion.

He said: It was all very amicable and afterwards we continued to have a good discussion on other matters.”

Mr Smart remains a member of the Ipswich Buses board.

The new chairman rejected claims that the move would necessarily lead to service cuts.

He said: “We are all very determined to increase the number of people using the buses.

“We will be looking at ways of restructuring the company to meet its financial targets, but service cuts would be the last resort and we would be looking at ways of getting support from councils for any routes under threat.”

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