Ipswich Buses Woes: privatisation?

Discussion in 'Local Politics' started by Ipswi, Apr 13, 2017.

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  1. Ipswi

    IpswiGuest

    Is there an major problem with municipal bus company Ipswich Buses Ltd? We had written to David Ellesmere with our concerns months ago who had responded along-the-lines of "all is fine" without injecting much confidence in his response. Their Managing Director and Finance Director both went recently, a new MD hasn't been found (Rob Bellamy from Peterborough remains interim Managing Director, previously Waste and Fleet Management Consultant for the council), they lost their lucrative Park and Ride contract to rival First and last year only managed to call off a Workers Strike.

    Ipswich Borough Council has just this month tendered out an opportunity for a business and management consultancy, business development consultancy or financial management consultancy service to undertake an Assessments of Viability and Customer Experience for subsidiary Ipswich Buses Ltd.
    Consultancy Services for Assessments of Viability and Customer Experience relating to Ipswich Buses

    Published Date: 04 April 2017
    Closing Date: 18 April 2017
    Start Date: 03 May 2017
    End Date: 16 June 2017

    Description:
    Ipswich Borough Council which owns Ipswich Buses Ltd, is inviting Quotes for the provision of consultancy services for Assessments of Viability and Customer Experience relating to Ipswich Buses. This opportunity is available in the Current Tenders area of www.suffolksourcing.uk. Interested parties are invited to express their interest in order to gain full access to the tender documentation.

    The Buyer:

    Joanne Cherrington
    15-17 Russell Road
    Ipswich
    Suffolk
    IP1 2DE
    United Kingdom

    Email: [email protected]
    Phone: +44 1473433754
    Website: https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/services/procurement-and-tendering

    Contract Start : 03 May 2017
    Contract End : 16 June 2017
    Reference : IBC/0028

    Criteria:-
    Price: 20%
    Quality: 80%

    CPV codes:
    79400000 - Business and management consultancy and related services
    79410000 - Business and management consultancy services
    79411000 - General management consultancy services
    79411100 - Business development consultancy services
    79412000 - Financial management consultancy services

    Is Ipswich Buses going to be sold off in whole or part?  In September 2010, Ipswich Borough Council abandoned its plans to sell Ipswich Buses to the Go-Ahead Group. John Carnall said: “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.”

    Ipswich Labour petitioned people to save the bus company from privatisation for reasons such as raised fares and reduced services and since has been ran into the ground. In 2010 the company was profitable making £470k profit on almost an £8 million turnover.   The company posted losses in 2013 and 2014. Made a £6k profit on £10 million turnover in 2015 and £68k profit in 2016 for just under £10 million turnover.

    Short lived part-time Managing Director Jeremy Cooper was Commercial Director of Stagecoach in Kent. He was apparently rumoured to still be on Stagecoach's payroll. Are Ipswich Borough Council going to sell the struggling bus company off to Stagecoach? Added here for purpose of preemption. Stagecoach typically gives reverse routes the A suffix, was Jeremy just making Ipswich Buses ripe for Stagecoach takeover?

    Is Ipswich Borough Council going to bail out Ipswich Buses financially? The other reason could be the council might be looking into injecting capital into the bus company. Or perhaps they are being investigated for financial irregularities?

    Anyone with inside information feel free to share what you know. It doesn't look good.
     

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  3. dan5

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    Messages:
    2,358
    Doug Paulley's Freedom of Information Act request regarding driver prosecutions is overdue.
    Dear Ipswich Buses Limited,

    S24(2) of the Public Passengers Vehicle Act 1981 makes failure to comply with the Conduct Regulations a criminal offence "liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale" (£500) "and, in the case of an offence by a person acting as driver of a public service vehicle, the court by which he is convicted may, if it thinks fit, cause particulars of the conviction to be endorsed upon the counterpart of the licence granted to that person under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988 or, as the case may be, the counterpart (if any) of his Community licence".

    The Conduct Regulations refer to, amongst others, The Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) (Amendment) Regulations 2002. These include the following requirements:

    "Where a wheelchair user wishes to board or to alight from a Schedule 1 vehicle, a driver and a conductor shall first safely deploy (subject to regulation 15(1) (duties requiring the proper functioning of equipment)) any boarding lift, boarding ramp or portable ramp in its correct operating position.

    "Where a wheelchair user wishes to board or to alight from a Schedule 1 vehicle and requests assistance to do so, a driver and a conductor shall provide assistance to him."

    It is therefore a criminal offence for a bus driver to fail to operate a ramp when a wheelchair user indicates he or she wishes to get off the bus.

    Buses with wheelchair spaces have special buttons that indicate that a wheelchair user requires the ramp to be fitted. These make an unignorable siren noise and light a special light on the driver's dashboard. This is a clear indication that "a wheelchair user wishes to board or to alight from a Schedule 1 vehicle" and so any driver failing to deploy the ramp is committing a crime punishable by a £500 fine and an endorsement on their license.

    Yet such crimes are frequent. I am aware that one London resident wheelchair user alone has recently had this happen to him on over 70 separate occasions; many of which he has supplied video evidence for - e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU9I8mJB... . I have no reason to suppose that such incidents do not occur in your area. An occasional slip by a driver may be understandable (though I think that's debateable given the siren noise and the light!) but the frequency of this occurence makes it clear that this is a systematic failing.

    I want to know please:

    1) How many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to operate the ramp in such situations in the past year?
    2) How many complaints have you had about drivers' failure to comply with their criminal duty to operate the ramp in the past year?
    3) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this specific are punished according to the law?
    4) How many times do you give warnings to a driver before prosecuting them or instigating such prosecutions?
    5) What impact does such prosecution have on a driver's career?
    6) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and prosecuting drivers that have committed this crime.

    S11 of the same Conduct Regulations places the following criminal obligation on drivers.

    "(2) If there is an unoccupied wheelchair space on the vehicle, a driver and a conductor shall allow a wheelchair user to board if—
    "(a) the wheelchair is of a type or size that can be correctly and safely located in that wheelchair space, and
    "(b) in so doing, neither the maximum seating nor standing capacity of the vehicle would be exceeded.
    "(3) For the purpose of paragraph (2), a wheelchair space is occupied if—
    "(a) there is a wheelchair user in that space; or
    "(b) passengers or their effects are in that space and they or their effects cannot readily and reasonably vacate it by moving to another part of the vehicle."

    I am aware of multiple occasions in which bus drivers have failed to comply with their criminal law duty to allow wheelchair users to board the bus, sometimes even failing to stop at the bus stop, when the wheelchair space is unoccupied or where the wheelchair space is occupied but the passengers and their effects could potentially readily and reasonably vacate it by moving to another part of the vehicle. This is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of £500 and an endorsement on the driver's license.

    Please provide the following information in relation to this crime.

    7) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board even though the wheelchair space is physically empty?
    8) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board even though passengers and/or their effects in the wheelchair space could readily and easily move to another part of the bus?
    9) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board, without the driver investigating to determine whether passengers or their effects occupying the wheelchair space could reasily and easily vacate it by moving to another part of the vehicle?
    10) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this area are punished according to the law?
    11) How many times do you give warnings to a driver before prosecuting them or instigating such prosecutions?
    12) What impact does such prosecution have on a driver's career?
    13) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and prosecuting drivers that have committed this crime.

    As a comparator, please tell me:

    14) How many bus drivers in your area have been prosecuted for other criminal offences committed whilst driving, for e.g. speeding, jumping the lights, stopping in boxed junctions and similar, in the past year?
    15) What is the impact on drivers of such prosecutions?

    Thankyou

    Yours faithfully,

    Doug Paulley

    Potentially vexatious in parts and some of it outside the scope of the Act.

    I have noticed recently that signs have been installed internally on buses regarding wheelchairs. I normally notice these sort of things so I assume they are relatively new but may have been there for a while or a new replacement. I know of the case of Terence Carter who felt like a second class citizen when a driver of Ipswich Buses Route x5 refused him entry on the bus after he (a town councillor - Needham Market?) specifically allowed other passengers to board before him leaving no available room for him. Not sure if the driver got prosecuted. Difficult case where the driver could have responded better but was little he could have done in fairness... seems Terence Carter didn't want "special treatment" of holding people up which was sweet of him but this resulted in the bus becoming full without room for him.

    I know there was a couple of other occasions of wheelchair users in the town - one was Chantry a few years back - where a driver refused entry (or similar). Question 14 is best described as awkward... "14) How many bus drivers in your area have been prosecuted for other criminal offences committed whilst driving, for e.g. speeding, jumping the lights, stopping in boxed junctions and similar, in the past year? "
     
  4. dan5

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    Messages:
    2,358
    I can confirm the Appointment of Mr James David Fairclugh as a director on 15 March 2017. We assume this is James Fairclough, Head of Culture and Environment at Ipswich Borough Council (previously Operational Manager Waste & Fleet).

    The company has also filed a resolution of adoption of a new Articles of Association (27 March 2017).  The resolution signed by IBC CEO Russell Williams, and counter signed by company secretary Pauline McBride of IBC legal services.  This is limiting powers to the directors - either as a result to some form of scandal or perhaps Ipswich Borough Council are considering investing (bailing out) in the bus company?

    Selling the company off in whole or part isn't exactly out of the question either.
     
  5. dan5

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    Messages:
    2,358
    From Ben Gummer website blog 2010...
    Conservatives in talks to modernise Ipswich Buses

    Conservative-led Ipswich Borough Council is in talks with the leading bus company, Go-Ahead, to improve Ipswich Buses.

    The involvement of Go-Ahead which has a policy of local management and local identity for its bus routes would bring greater commercial expertise and buying power to Ipswich Buses. Go-Ahead has run successful operations including in Oxford and Brighton with very similar bus markets to Ipswich.

    Ipswich Buses is one of only eleven Council owned bus services and this number is rapidly falling. The Go-Ahead proposal should preserve council influence over the bus service, as well as ensuring routes and employment that would be at risk for a standalone operator.

    John Carnall, deputy leader of the Council said, “No decision has yet been taken on this matter but we must follow up this opportunity to see whether it will improve bus services for local people and keep fares as low as possible. “

    “We’re really not sure what Labour’s issue is. One minute, in the form of the government they are encouraging us to sell assets. The next minute Alistair Ross in his blog says they are totally opposed to any sell off and finally their leader David Ellesmere says in the Evening Star that it’s just the wrong time. I know they are facing a dreadful defeat and they are at their wits' end, but at least they could get their story straight. It’s this sort of headless chicken impression that shows how they got us in such a mess with the economy, the hospital and just about everything else.”

    Have they finally changed their minds?
     
  6. dan5

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    Messages:
    2,358
    Three bus services have been axed: the free shuttle, 800 Park & Ride (due to lost contract) and Woodbridge Open Top bus.

    The public record of these bus service cancellations and the date of which they begin are as follows
    PF0000147/98

    IPSWICH BUSES LTD, 7 CONSTANTINE ROAD, IPSWICH, IP1 2DL

    Operating between Cricketers Layby, Tower Ramparts bus station and Woodbridge
    Railway Station given service number Woodbridge Open Top Tour effective from
    23 July 2017.

    PF0000147/85

    IPSWICH BUSES LTD, 7 CONSTANTINE ROAD, IPSWICH, IP1 2DL

    Operating between London Road Park & Ride Terminal and Martlesham Park &
    Ride Terminal given service number 800 effective from 02 July 2017.

    PF0000147/44

    IPSWICH BUSES LTD, 7 CONSTANTINE ROAD, IPSWICH, IP1 2DL

    Operating between IPSWICH, ENDEAVOUR HOUSE, RUSSELL ROAD and
    IPSWICH, ENDEAVOUR HOUSE, RUSSELL ROAD given service number 38
    effective from 29 July 2017.

     
     
  7. dan5

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    Messages:
    2,358
    It appears Ipswich Borough Council has bailed out Ipswich Buses Ltd to the tune of £252,000:-

    • Charge code: 0200 0058 0003

    • Registration of a charge (MR01)

    • Created: 30 May 2017

    • Delivered: 7 June 2017

    • Status: Outstanding

    • Persons entitled:
      Ipswich Borough Council

    • Brief description:
      Contains floating charge.
      Floating charge covers all the property or undertaking of the company.
      Contains negative pledge.

    • The Principal Sum of £252,000


    Full details available via the attachment!

    Nothing in Ipswich Star about this or any council meetings.
     

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