Luton will be first to sell to NBC
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• Luton Corporation Transport will almost certainly be the first municipal passenger transport undertaking to be sold to the National Bus Company. it may be closely followed by the Exeter bus undertaking, the sale of which to the NBC has been approved by the city council subject to certain conditions.
Both moves were forecast in CM August 1, and the decision by Luton town council, which approved on Tuesday evening the recommen dation of the transport committee, backed by the finance committee, that the undertaking be sold to United Counties Omnibus Co. Ltd.
for £294,924, puts Luton in the lead as the vesting date is to be January 1 1970. The proposed vesting date of the Exeter undertaking. which will be sold to the NBC for £190,000, is April 1 1970—the end of the current financial year.
Mr. W. Astin, general manager of the Exeter undertaking, told me that the sale was subject to various provisos, the most important of which was that staff of the undertaking should retain the same conditions of employment and superannuation as at present, which are better than those enjoyed by employees of the local NBC undertaking, the Devon General Omnibus Co. Ltd.
To that end, representatives of the TGWU, AEF, NUVB and NALGO employees of the undertaking were due to meet Mr. J. T. E.
Robinson, member of the NBC's executive board, this week. If a solution satisfactory to both Exeter and Devon General employees was delayed, the vesting date could also be delayed, said Mr. Astin.
A consultative committee consisting of four members of the city council and four representatives of the NBC would be set up, and this suggests the establishment of a similar type of undertaking to that of the Bristol City services to take over the 65 vehicle fleet from Exeter. Under such an arrangement, Exeter's buses would be maintained and operated by Devon General, possibly in the latter undertaking's livery, but bearing the city's coat of arms.
A working agreement between Exeter Corporation and Devon General was introduced in 1947, providing for the joint operation of services in an area of 12 miles radius from the city centre. It is significant that a similar joint working agreement exists between United Counties and Luton Corporation.
Mr. R. M. C. Baschy, general manager of Luton Corporation Transport, told me that the agreement with United Counties provided for the retention of the existing terms of employment for the local municipal employees and that there would be no redundancies. About 77 buses will be transferred to NBC ownership on January 1, many of which am modern o-m-o B ristoVECVV single-deckers.
Mr. Baschy added, however, that it was too early to say what form the undertaking would take in the future. Accumulated debts of the Luton undertaking are reported to amount to £226,000.