Friday, August 19, 2011

SPT facing the end of the road as it maybe abolished in public-sector overhaul, Labour Chair Jonathan Findlay spits the dummy, it’s over!

Dear All

A while ago the SPT scandal broke in Scotland.

The Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is the Glasgow Labour Party’s cash cow and football travel agent.

I said that this organisation should be closed immediately, cut off at the knees and the Labour Councillors sent packed.

It seems that having come out in favour of closure; we are a step closer as Scotland’s largest transport authority faces the prospect of abolition under a review of public-sector agencies.

Now, at this time in politics changes are happening, the next five years are about reform of public services both in how they deliver to their clients but also the models that produce the services.

Money has focused minds but there needs to be questions asked about accountability and lack of transparency.

Ministers in Holyrood are said to have described Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) as “bloated” and claim there will be moves to overhaul it by the end of the year.

Another option is to drastically reduce its powers but let’s not waste time.

These characters have been ripping the piss out of the taxpayer long enough; they are getting flung out into the street.

After the world football tours, a new broom was brought as chairman, Labour Councillor, Jonathan Findlay.

He is on three wages thank you very much.

As the new guy, he has been credited with drawing a line under the junkets and expenses scandals which beset the agency’s previous regime under Labour.

And let’s face it, he had no choice as Ministers and others were watching.

Typically, the Labour-dominated agency believes it is being used as political ‘football’ in the run-up to next year’s council elections which are important for Glasgow.

They can believe what they like; the thing is still getting chopped down regardless who win that contest!

Findlay is unhappy to the extent that he attacked the SNP’s relationship with Stagecoach tycoon Sir Brian Souter.

Now, that is politics.

Then as mitigation, he added that under his stewardship, SPT was millions of pounds leaner.

And looking desperate he also commented that the SPT with a budget of almost £50 million; was fulfilling Government pledges on transport matters such as concessionary travel and various other schemes and project.

Nice to know that for £50 million, people are willing to do what they are already paid for.

However, it seems that Labour want to run a narrative that the proposed review is a political attack on Labour-run councils in the west of the country.

This organisation was run by the Glasgow Labour and various Labour cronies and ex candidates, so let’s not kid ourselves this is anything but want it is.

Ex Chief Executive and former Labour Candidate Ron Culley, quit along with several other senior officials after abuse of expenses, including arranging a fact-finding trip to coincide with Rangers’ Uefa Cup Final was made public.

I would have shut them down early if I was in a position to send out a clear message to others.

As a mark of how bad things were at SPT, it was found to be institutionally flawed in reports by watchdogs.

You could say that the Labour Councillors had their eye on what was in it for them instead of due diligence regarding corporate governance.

One Government source said:

“SPT is still very much on the Government’s radar and far from off the hook. It’s still in the spotlight and part of the upcoming agenda. The whole issue of public-sector reform isn’t going away and is being seriously considered post-Christie Commission [which has reported on the delivery of public services]. There are lingering issues around SPT even after the regime change. It’s bloated for starters and there are major issues around governance. It does provide some direct services and tenders out others but that can all still happen after future restructuring and we simply scrap the duplication. At this stage there’s no decision on how to crack this nut and it may fall under public-sector reform legislation. But they will not be left as they are. It’s a case of necessity and I’d expect to see something by the end of the year.”

Kill it.

Findlay replied by saying:

“Rumours and threats are extremely damaging and no organisation should have to operate under such impossible conditions. Staff morale is clearly affected every time an anonymous voice decides to have a go for political reasons. I firmly stand by my proposal. I believe SPT is doing a great job and those at the top have already delivered savings of £3m over the past 16 months. The Scottish Government needs to be clear and, if a review is to take place, explain how integrated regional transport services will be delivered in future. Also, how would the many major projects that SPT delivers, such as the new park-and-ride scheme at Croy station, Smartcard ticketing, extensive Subway modernisation and a £5m upgrade of Hamilton bus station, be delivered across Strathclyde? Crucially, who is going to lobby for better bus regulation in the face of cuts in local bus services by private operators?”

Given previous Labour involvement, this organisation should be closed, to set an example to others that the abuse of expenses and using the organisation as a travel agent for football isn’t going to be tolerated.

This should be absorbed by Transport Scotland, the staff retained and the political influence removed that the Labour Party has nurtured among its cronies and placemen.

When the scandal broke of what went on at SPT, the entire management should have been suspended pending investigation.

And everyone who used SPT funds to go to that Rangers’ Uefa Cup Final in Manchester sacked.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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