COUNCIL chiefs have stepped in to take control of the Capital’s bus company after a bitter boardroom row.
City transport convener Lesley Hinds has been parachuted onto the board of Lothian Buses and a senior council executive will join the management team in a bid to get the publicly-owned firm back on track following a fall-out between chief executive Ian Craig and three senior executives.
Last night, Lothian Buses’ chairwoman Ann Faulds dramatically resigned from the post she has held for five years.
She led an investigation into Mr Craig’s alleged “abrasive” management style amid complaints from the three executives – operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin, and finance director Norman Strachan.
No disciplinary action was taken against Mr Craig, who did not attend work at Lothian Buses HQ for ten weeks during the probe.
But it is understood that following the investigation Ms Faulds was in favour of Mr Craig leaving the company.
The Evening News understands there have also been tensions at senior levels over Mr Craig’s role in integrating the city’s new tram line with its existing popular bus service under the umbrella of Transport for Edinburgh.
Today, Cllr Hinds said that as the major shareholder the council was “fully committed” to developing Edinburgh’s public transport system.
“Great strides have already been made, but it is clear that work is required to restore effective working relationships at a senior level,” she said.
“We must ensure a stable and effective management team is in place and the council will work closely with the chief executive Ian Craig and his executives in the coming weeks and months to ensure the continued success of Lothian Buses and Transport for Edinburgh.”
And she said: “We would like to thank Ann for her significant contribution to Lothian Buses over the past five years and, in particular, for her time as chair during what has been a challenging and successful time for transport in our city.”
The council said it was proposed that Cllr Hinds would join the board of Lothian Buses; and it would consider installing a senior executive into Lothian Buses management team to “provide ongoing support”.
The move to install Cllr Hinds on the Lothian Buses board, which is subject to the approval of board members, does not rule out further departures by directors, which could prove costly to city taxpayers.
Mr Craig and the other three directors are paid more than the Prime Minister, with Mr Craig on £270,000 including bonuses. The other three directors receive £190,000, including bonus payments.
And the Evening News revealed earlier this month that they have “bomb proof” deals, which guarantee them a pay-off of twice their annual salary in severance cash in the event any were dismissed or left Lothian Buses under a compromise agreement. That could mean a potential bill of more than £1 million to settle the dispute.
A senior council source said it was “inevitable” that one or more of the executives who complained about Mr Craig would depart in the wake of the investigation.