Scotrail franchise exposes 'Sneaky Stewart'

03 April 2008

Scottish Nationalist (SNP) transport minister Stewart Stevenson announced today that he has extended the Scotrail franchise for three years, up to 2014. The SNP – after all its pre-election assurances about involvement and transparency – consulted no one before taking the decision.

 

ASLEF says this exposes not only Mr Stevenson, but also his party, as being ‘puffed up with power’. ‘To take a decision of this importance without mentioning it to anyone except his own cronies is utterly undemocratic and authoritarian,’ said ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman. ‘It is a warning to all voters of the dangers of the SNP.’

 

Scottish TUC leader Grahame Smith says Mr Stevenson promised ‘consultation and dialogue’ at a meeting last month. The extension of the franchise is a reflection of the value of his undertakings.

 

The union’s officer in Scotland, Kevin Linsday, says this arrogance has prevented stakeholders from putting alternative plans to the minister. ‘He says he has ‘revisited key terms’ in the contract, but doesn’t say what they are. He talks about being able to reinvest £70 million back into ‘public services throughout the country’. He was not prepared to even discuss putting that money back into transport – like financing the re-opening of the Edinburgh suburban line, which would cost about £38 million.

 

‘He hasn’t even considered bringing the franchise back into public hands, a solution supported by more people than back the SNP!’

 

The union will be raising the issue at the STUC Congress later in the month. ‘We may not be in a position to reverse this decision at present,’ says Keith Norman. ‘But we will do all we can to expose the SNP’S authoritarian and pompous attitudes. It will not be hard to do.’

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