Tram money drives bus fears

Lothian buses
Lothian buses

Councillors last week raised fears that Lothian Buses giving an extraordinary dividend of £20 million to the tram project would hit bus services here.

Proposals by the City of 
Edinburgh Council to put money from 2017-20 from the publicly-owned Lothian Buses into extending Edinburgh’s tram network sparked anger at last week’s full council meeting.

Councillors were notified that the chief executive of Midlothian Council, Kenneth Lawrie, had written to Lothian Buses to raise doubts about the potential impact the move could have on Midlothian bus services.

Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP), said: “I think Mid, West and East Lothian are right to have concerns, that the use of Lothian Buses money would affect their bus fleet.

“There is no doubt that areas outwith Edinburgh will suffer if they are allowed this extraordinary dividend.”

Labour councillor Russell Imrie said: “I actually think that the three leaders of the authorities affected should be meeting with the leader of the authority that put this forward.

“I think there is a real threat to our communities.

“I really feel it has to be raised politically. If the three leaders meet with the leader of Edinburgh Council they can explain the threat and supply to those that work in Edinburgh. We are having a hard enough job getting people off the road and on to public transport.”

Jim McFarlane, general manager at Lothian Buses, said: “We remain fully committed to providing an efficient, reliable and accessible service for Midlothian as is reflected in our recently enhanced services for the area. Our position remains that clearly any dividend payments are dependent on our continued strong performance, which is built on our long-term investment in staff, fleet and services throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians.”