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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Lib Dem Bus Directors slam Tory Chairman

October 5, 2006 2:31 PM

cllrs slater and tester outside Eastbourne buses HQTwo members of Eastbourne Buses board of directors have sensationally broken ranks and spoken out about their dissatisfaction with the way the company is being run by Tory councillor Patrick Warner, the company's current chairman.

Lib Dem councillors Troy Tester and Rob Slater are deeply concerned about the poor performance of the company, the lack of consultation with board members by the chairman and the failure for board decisions to be implemented by the management.

Cllr Slater said "We have tried to maintain unity on the board and have given Cllr Warner support and more than adequate opportunity to deliver, but he has consistently let the company, the staff, the customers and the people of Eastbourne down. We will be having a full and frank discussion with Councillor Warner to see if he is prepared to act as a proper non-executive Chairman in the interest of the long-term future of Eastbourne Buses."

The two Lib Dem board members have criticised the lack of communication they receive about major issues in the business. "It is outrageous that we should have found out about the recent strike action this summer from the press and about the recent tragic death of a loyal member of staff whilst at work from our friends and family. As board members we should have been informed by the Managing Director and the Chairman immediately in both cases" said Cllr Tester, "This just goes to show how Patrick Warner is running the company as his own private fiefdom with no regard for the board whatsoever."

The board meeting for September was cancelled at short notice and has still not taken place.

"When the new buses, which have recently joined the Eastbourne Buses fleet were purchased I was guaranteed at a board meeting that they would be fully route branded in the company livery before being put on the road," said Cllr Slater, "and yet somehow we have all these unbranded white buses driving round our town. When was the decision to allow this taken and why was the board not consulted? Furthermore, the board agreed some time ago to move away from carrying adverts on our vehicles and yet the new vehicles are now carrying adverts for Caffyns."

Cllr Tester has also criticised the chairman and Managing Director for failing to keep other board members fully informed about negotiations to resolve the recent industrial dispute and not showing commitment to working to improve relations with the union. "We feel that we should have been kept up to date with the situation at all times during the negotiations rather than just being told 'it's too delicate' and then being presented with a fait accompli. We suggested after the strike that a worker representative at board level would help to avoid future misunderstandings and help the company by allowing the board to hear the voice from the shopfloor. Cllr Warner rejected the idea of allowing board members regular contact with employees."

Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr David Tutt said "there are clearly very serious issues with the leadership of this company, last week the Audit Commission reported that 'it is unlikely that Eastbourne Buses Ltd will continue as a going concern without restructuring of its existing debt or receipt of other financial support' action is needed now if our buses are to be saved."