Leader: Bus salary too high for the job

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THERE is no doubt that Lothian Buses is one of Britain’s best local public transport companies.

The buses in the Capital tend to run on time, they are generally clean and comfortable and fares are reasonable compared to most other cities. As a publicly-owned firm, profits are also ploughed back into local services, either by investing in its fleet or by paying annual dividends to the local councils.

That is all very good and everyone involved deserves credit, but does it justify paying its chief executive quite so handsomely?

After weeks of secrecy, we now know that Ian Craig was paid £265,000 last year. The latest pay of his senior colleagues – three of whom earned more than the UK Prime Minister last year – is still to be revealed. To put that into some context, the bus company chief executive’s new salary is 87 per cent higher than David Cameron’s and 50 per cent more than the man charged with turning around the fortunes of NHS Lothian.

The justification for this whopping 26 per cent pay rise is that Mr Craig has taken on extra responsibilities, for the running of the trams and extra bus services in East Lothian and Midlothian. Yet, in the current climate, many in both the private and public sector have been asked to take on extra duties without any extra pay.

The view of this newspaper – and many of the city councillors who oversee the company – is that this salary is simply too high for the job. Others may differ, but it is up to them to make their case. No-one could reasonably argue that pay on this scale is not a fair subject for public debate.

Lothian Buses may be a private company, but it is owned by the public. Most of the its passengers and staff – in other words, the public – will be incredulous at the rewards being dished out. Despite being local authority-owned, councillors do not currently have the final say on these pay packages. It is time that they did.