given our recent experience with the trams and so on, it is tempting to say someone needs to sit down and write a simple ABC guide to managing public finances. If anyone does, then the A must stand for – accountability.
When decisions are being taken about spending public money, elected representatives should have a say. We may not always hold politicians in the highest regard, but they have one virtue over beaureacrats – we can kick them out at the next election if we do not like their decisions.
Of course, politicians make good decisions as well as bad ones. And the Capital’s transport leader Lesley Hinds deserves credit today for her intervention in the growing row about Lothian Buses’ “fat cat” bonuses. She has insisted “enough is enough” and created a system which allows councillors to veto overly-generous pay deals for the bus company’s bosses.
The problem until now has been that, despite Lothian Buses being owned by our local councils, its directors have worked in a vacuum, setting their own salaries and bonuses. Who knows how much they might have awarded themselves if the News had not repeatedly highlighted their soaring pay packages?
Lothian Buses is a very well run company, but that doesn’t mean the pay of its directors is not a matter of huge public interest. The changes announced today should ensure that future rewards are kept in line.
One of the next big challenges landing in Lesley Hinds in-tray is attempting to sort out the pig’s ear that is the Sheriffhall roundabout.
Turning the junction into something that does not create such huge hold-ups will not be cheap. But given the huge number of journeys it would speed up, compared to the relatively small proportion of city travellers who will regularly use the trams, wouldn’t it offer great value for money?