Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

New SPT chairman says public 'deserve better'

Councillor Jonathan Findlay
Mr Findlay has been officially appointed as the new chairman of SPT

The new chairman of Scotland's largest public transport authority has said the travelling public deserve better.

Labour councillor Jonathan Findlay has been appointed as head of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which is engulfed in a row over expenses.

The body's three most senior staff quit after it emerged officials had run up more than £100,000 in expenses and gone on foreign fact-finding trips.

Mr Findlay promised to improve scrutiny of the way SPT is run.

The Glasgow councillor, who also works as a lawyer, admitted staff morale was low and that events in recent weeks had been "immensely difficult" for SPT.

He was nominated and voted in by a majority vote of 14 for and six against, at a meeting of SPT's Partnership.

In a statement Mr Findlay said: "As chair, I am determined to re-focus SPT on its core business - delivering for passengers across the west of Scotland.

"I hope we can build a new culture where we challenge not only each other but ourselves to do better.

"I'm ready for that challenge and I'm looking forward to getting on with the job."

Expenses row

Former chairman Councillor Alistair Watson stood down last Monday.

Ron Culley then quit as chief executive, followed by South Lanarkshire Labour councillor Davie McLachlan, who stepped down as vice chairman.

The row which led to the resignations flared after expense claims from SPT officials were released following a Freedom of Information request.

There have also been questions about expense claims from officials in Manchester on the day of the Uefa Cup final in 2008 between Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg.

Financial watchdog Audit Scotland is to investigate the claims.

The transport authority has also asked its external auditors, KPMG, to review its expenses policy.

South Lanarkshire Councillor Denis McKenna has been appointed as the new vice chair at SPT.

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