LOTHIAN Buses has sold nine vehicles to a firm part-owned by chief executive Ian Craig.
The council-owned business also hired a design firm run by Mr Craig and his wife to carry out work at its offices.
The new interim chairman of the bus company – appointed last week – has used his first days in the job to examine details of the deals and found there was no impropriety.
But Tony Depledge has now demanded a review of the practice to ensure the company’s image cannot be called into question in future.
Critics have raised concerns about the “lack of transparency” at the bus company.
Councillor Jason Rust said “To the lay person it will seem a very strange coincidence that these decisions were made and perception is key.
“There are many questions which need urgent answers.”
Since 2006, nine Lothian Buses have been sold to Craig of Campbeltown – the family-run firm where Mr Craig began his career in 1989.
The CEO of Lothian Buses still owns a 26 per cent stake in the company – which trades as West Coast Motors – while his brother Colin, the firm’s chief executive, holds another 26 per cent of shares.
Their father William Craig is the majority shareholder with 48 per cent.
While it is not possible to verify how much the family firm paid for the vehicles, the going rate for second-hand buses ranges from £10,000 for older models to £40,000 for a newer double-decker bus.
But a Lothian Buses spokesman said: “Lothian Buses has sold hundreds of buses over the past ten years to other operators all across the UK, all at market value.”
The news comes as it was revealed that thousands of pounds were paid to a design company wholly owned by Ian Craig’s wife, Claire Craig.
Cubic Interior Design Consultancy Limited carried out £7700 worth of design and furnishing work to Lothian Buses’ Travelshop on Waverley Bridge and the firm’s depot at Longstone, which was extended and revamped in 2012.
The company’s registered address is a townhouse in Morningside believed to be the Craig family home. Mr Craig was listed as company secretary of Cubic Interior Design for the duration of the refit at Lothian Buses premises.
But he stood down from the design company on October 21 – three days before news broke of a major boardroom rift at Lothian Buses that saw three directors lodge grievances about his management style.
It is understood that a senior figure at Lothian Buses, but not Mr Craig, asked for his wife’s design firm to be hired.
Lothian Buses denies any wrongdoing and said the interior design firm was hired and paid by project managers Graham & Sibbald, which did not comment by the time of going to press. A spokesman for Lothian Buses said: “Property refurbishment and improvement projects at Waverley Travel shop and Longstone depot were managed by surveying firm Graham & Sibbald on behalf of Lothian Buses. Cubic Interior Design were engaged on two occasions as a sub-contractor to G&S to work on projects. The consultancy has never been engaged directly in paid work by Lothian Buses.”
Board in chaos over bitter row
A BITTER row has split the board at Lothian Buses for the last two months.
It sparked when three executive directors at the firm lodged a grievance against its chief executive Ian Craig.
Operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin, and finance director Norman Strachan accused Mr Craig of failing to consult them on major decisions and using an “abrasive” management style.
Following an investigation by former chairwoman Ann Faulds, no disciplinary action was taken against Mr Craig, and peace talks were launched to heal the rift.
But it later emerged Ms Faulds had recommended Mr Craig leave the firm. She resigned her post at Lothian Buses two weeks ago with city transport convener councillor Lesley Hinds parachuted onto the board charged with getting the company back on track. Former Arriva development director Tony Depledge was then named interim chairman.