Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 16:28 UK

Protesters oppose bus firm sale

Plymouth protest
The council is to spend up to 940,000 to investigate selling the bus company

About 100 people have protested against Plymouth City Council's plans to sell off council-owned bus firm CityBus.

Campaigners handed in a 20,000 signature petition to the council which is holding a full meeting on Monday.

Trade union Unite said it was concerned about possible job losses at the firm which employs about 500 people, as well as a reduction in services.

The council said no deal had been agreed to sell the company which it was getting valued to test the market.

The public petition makes it perfectly clear that the tax-paying people of this city want CityBus to stay in public hands
Clayton Roberts, Unite

In July, the council agreed to spend about £1m preparing to take CityBus to market.

A final vote on the matter will happen at the end of November.

Clayton Roberts, regional officer of the union Unite, said: "Democratically elected members of the council cannot ignore the people of Plymouth and Unite's call any longer.

"The public petition makes it perfectly clear that the tax-paying people of this city want CityBus to stay in public hands.

"Only this will ensure that the continuation of the services it provides at present stays intact."

A report to the council said that selling the firm could bring in millions for council services, while the council was unable to make the large capital investments in CityBus which a commercial firm could.

We must look at the proposed sale of CityBus with our heads and not our hearts
Council leader Vivien Pengelly

Council leader Vivien Pengelly said: "The reasons for our original decisions to explore the sale have not changed.

"Just because something has always worked well in the past, doesn't guarantee its future, just look at Woolworths and all the other companies going out of business right now.

"Public transport in Plymouth is becoming more competitive.

"If the company needs investment to be more competitive and survive in the tough economic times, who should cover that risk? Is it the Plymouth taxpayer?

"We must look at the proposed sale of CityBus with our heads and not our hearts."



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SEE ALSO
Protest over CityBus sale plans
20 Jun 09 |  Devon
City's bus shares could be sold
02 Jun 09 |  Devon
Anger about bus route cut plans
22 May 05 |  Devon
Fuel prices pushing up bus fares
22 Sep 05 |  Devon

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