Lothian Buses boss still earns more than David Cameron

Buses in one of Lothian's depots. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Buses in one of Lothian's depots. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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THE salary for Edinburgh’s top transport job has been slashed – but the man running the city’s buses will still earn more than Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron, the Evening News can reveal.

Richard Hall, who secured the managing director role at Lothian Buses last year, will take home a baseline salary of £165,000 when he begins work next month.

But his entitlement to a maximum bonus of £49,500 could push his final pay packet up to well over £200,000.

His controversial predecessor Ian Craig came under fire in 2014 after a bumper bonus payout saw his salary of £186,000 rocket to £270,000 – just months before he became embroiled in a damaging boardroom row that led to the departure of a host of top officials.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, welcomed the ten per cent slash in Mr Hall’s future salary.

She said: “As the major shareholder in Lothian Buses and owner of Edinburgh Trams we wanted to ensure with the new senior management structure coming in that there would be a reduction in salaries, so this is welcome news as it’s important money is invested in frontline transport services.”

Ms Sturgeon takes home £144,687, while the prime minister earns £142,500.

But a Lothian Buses spokesman insisted: “The pay of any politician or public official is not a like-for-like comparison.

“Lothian Buses is a significant profit-making commercial business and as such, pay is benchmarked against that of other senior executives managing comparable businesses operating within similar sectors.”

Figures given exclusively to the News also show George Lowder MBE, the decorated army commander who has replaced Mr Craig in his other role as chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, will take home £141,800 – with a maximum bonus of £21,270.

Meanwhile, Lea Harrison, the new general manager of Edinburgh Trams following the departure of Tom Norris, will earn £90,000, with a potential bonus of up to £13,500.

Transport bosses said pay had been decided with the 
support of job evaluation experts the Hay Group, to ensure it was competitive.

And they vowed there would be “more stringent arrangements for all bonuses”, with “any payments being highly dependent on individual and company performance”.

Steve Cassidy, chair of the remuneration committees for Transport for Edinburgh and Lothian Buses, said: “The skills and experience that our new senior team bring to their roles are essential in delivering the integrated transport services and infrastructure that Edinburgh and the wider economy need over the coming years.

“Their remuneration has been benchmarked by a leading, independent HR consultancy to ensure they are competitive with comparable organisations and are also appropriate for these specific roles.”

Lothian Buses boasts around 2000 staff and a fleet of more than 700 vehicles, with its last annual report showing a £3 million boost in revenue.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com