Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Q&A: SPT expenses row

Glasgow subway
SPT operates Scotland's only subway system, in Glasgow

SPT, Scotland's largest transport authority has been hit by a third resignation amid an ongoing row over expenses.

The latest resignation of South Lanarkshire Labour councillor Davie McLachlan comes after chief executive Ron Culley and chairman Glasgow Labour councillor Alistar Watson stood down.

What is SPT?

SPT was first set up as Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive in 1972 to take over the Glasgow Corporation's tramway and public transport department.

In the 1980s it expanded to become Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive (SPTE), under the overall direction of Strathclyde Regional Council.

After the abolition of the regional council in 1996, it was re-established as an incorporated body, controlled by councillors drawn from the 12 unitary authorities within the Strathclyde area.

In 2006, SPTE, along with the WESTRANS voluntary regional transport partnership, became Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

What does it do?

SPT's role now involves operating the Glasgow subway, which is used by 14 million passengers a year.

It also maintains more than 1,700 bus shelters and about 10,000 bus stops as well as operating and managing Buchanan Street, Hamilton and East Kilbride bus stations.

The organisation said it works with 11 education authorities to organise the "biggest school run in Scotland". It carries about 46,000 pupils each day, using public transport services, contract buses, cars and taxis.

It subsidises bus services in areas where no commercial services exist and provides services like Dial-a-Bus for people with mobility problems.

Why is SPT in the spotlight?

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information showed SPT officials claimed more than £100,000 in expenses between 2006 and 2009.

Glasgow SNP councillor Graeme Hendry lodged a complaint to Audit Scotland on 11 February over the expenses claims, and the public spending watchdog said it would decide whether to investigate within 30 working days.

SPT has also asked its external auditors, KPMG, to review its expenses policy.

Who is going?

The first senior SPT figure to stand down was chairman Alistair Watson , on Monday.

Mr Watson, who is also a Glasgow Labour councillor, said he was resigning for health reasons.

He began work in the railway industry in 1976 and worked as a train driver with ScotRail for 24 years. He was first elected to local government in 1995-96.

He was chair of the West of Scotland Transport Partnership from 1999 until 2003 and has been a member of SPT for the past 15 years.

On Thursday, the organisation was hit by another two resignations .

Ron Culley stood down as chief executive - also citing health reasons - then South Lanarkshire Labour councillor Davie McLachlan stepped down as vice chairman.

He said: "Over the past few days SPT has received unjust criticism which has reflected on me. I believe that my position will be vindicated once the KPMG report is published."

What happens next?

Jonathan Findlay is expected to be confirmed as the new chairman of SPT at a board meeting on Friday.

His appointment was announced on Wednesday.

Mr Findlay works as a lawyer for East Dunbartonshire Council and represents Glasgow's Drumchapel and Anniesland ward.

Audit Scotland said it was considering the complaint against SPT lodged on 11 February and would decide whether to launch an inquiry within 30 days.



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SEE ALSO
Third SPT expense row resignation
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Lawyer to 'clean up' SPT expenses
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'Expenses row' SPT chief resigns
15 Feb 10 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West


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