Concerns raised over bus privatisation

Concerns were today voiced over the effect on passengers of privatising Ipswich Buses.

IPSWICH: Concerns were today voiced over the effect on passengers of privatising Ipswich Buses.

As revealed in The Evening Star, transport bosses are in talks with travel giant Go Ahead over a potential takeover of the borough council-owned business.

The figures involved in the buy-out have not been revealed although the deal is reportedly near completion and a formal announcement is expected early in the New Year.

Today, David Ellesmere, leader of the borough Labour group, expressed his fears for the future of services under a private firm and questioned the timing of the deal.

“Any private company that takes over the buses will be doing it to make a profit,” he said. “It is likely the prices will go up and the services will be cut.

“Even if you think privatisation is right for the bus company, this is not the right time to do it. We are in the middle of a recession and the council will not get a good deal.

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“I can only imagine that the reason the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are looking to privatise is because of some of the disappointing financial mistakes they have made over the years.”

However John Carnall, deputy leader of the council, insisted Go Ahead's highly skilled management and economies of scale woudl mean improved services for people.

He added: “Ipswich Buses is a minnow in the bus industry and is facing financial difficulties.

“In looking to link with Go Ahead, it gives us the opportunity to bring in a national transport provider with a very good reputation, highly skilled management, and economies of scale which Ipswich Buses could never achieve.

“This is likely to protect Ipswich Buses and improve services and fares for local people.”

He added that if Go Ahead did take over operations, the Ipswich Buses brand would be retained.

Go Ahead has services across the country - mainly in towns and cities - and earlier this month took over the bus services run by Plymouth City Council.

Ipswich Buses is one of just 11 council-owned companies in Britain.

What do you think of Ipswich Buses? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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