Leyland Bus chief blames deregulation uncertainty
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Roe factory blow
ANOTHER LEYLAND BUS assembly plant is being closed this year, but the company is dismissing predictions of imminent privatisation plans as ill-informed speculafon.
The Charles H. Roe plant at Leeds, which makes complete Royal Tiger Doyen coaches and bodies for Olympian doubledeckers, is being closed in September with the loss of 440 jobs.
Doyen production, which has fallen behind initial expectations, is being transferred to the automated Workington plant in Cumbria which already makes Royal Tiger underframes and some Doyen bodies.
Olympian bodywork will all be undertaken by Eastern Coachworks, at Lowestoft, which builds low height bodies for Olympians and some full height bodies. ECW also makes all coach versions of the Olympian, and has been undertaking repainting and overhaul work to maintain capacity. Leyland Bus managing director Ken Maciver blamed the Roe closure — expected for many months — on excess capacity in the British market, and on "a great deal of uncertainty on the implications of the possible deregulation of bus services".
He said: "Our other assembly facilities at Lowestoft and Workington can accommodate the C. H. Roe workload without additional resources and it is essential that we take full advantage of this in present circumstances.
"Leyland's share of the new business in the UK is increasing and intensive efforts continue to be made in export markets," Mr Maciver concluded.
Some press comments have suggested that Leyland Bus, which made a small profit last year, is now being added to the list of companies that BL is prepared to sell to private industry.
This was dismissed as idle speculation by a Leyland spokesman who told CM that privatisation would only be proceeded with after recommendations were made by the parent BL board.
He went on to say that the British bus market was still declining, so the attraction of Leyland Bus factories to another buyer would be low.
Indeed, matters for Leyland will worsen next year, when it stops building buses for London Transport. LT's intention of single-sourcing its buses after that puts Leyland's London business at permanent risk.