Secretary of State allows three Welsh appeals
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• Appeals by the Western Welsh Omnibus Co Ltd, Red and White Services Ltd and Jones Omnibus Services Ltd against the decisions of the South Wales Traffic Commissioners were allowed by the Secretary of State for the Environment last week.
The appeals by Western Welsh and Red and White were against the Commissioners' decision not to allow the two companies to withdraw return fares. It was submitted by the companies that heavy losses in 1970 were the main reason for the application. The objectives of the companies were to cover their cost increases for 1971 resulting from the national wage award although the losses incurred in 1970 would not be covered.
The Commissioners' reason for refusing the application was that it avoided the double impact of the return fares withdrawal in addition to increases in basic fares. It was estimated by the companies that the decisions would reduce the annual surpluses of Western Welsh by £115,000 and of Red and White by £31,500. It was contended by the appellants that the double impact was not unfair because the present return fares were unreasonable, not enabling them to earn adequate revenue from these services. Other concessions would remain, they submitted, which included oneand three-monthly season tickets and 12 journeys tickets at three-quarters cost.
Arguing against this the respondents, the Area Joint Committee of Social Authorities, maintained that the withdrawal of return fares would create hardship on low and fixed incomes, particularly old-age pensioners while the cost to local authorities in providing concessionary fares would be prohibitive. The respondents further contended that if the Commissioners had come to the 'conclusion that it would be unreasonable to withdraw the return fares then this should be regarded as a finding of fact and as irreversible on appeal.
The Secretary of State has agreed with his Inspector, Mr D. H. Croften, that the Commissioners' decision would result in the companies being unable to achieve in 1971 much more than 45 per cent of the NEC financial objectives. It was also acknowledged that some hardship might result from the double impact of fares increases and return fares withdrawal. Bearing in mind, however, that no suitable alternative was suggested for raising the required revenue the Secretary of State has decided to allow the appeal of the companies and dismiss the appeals of the Area Joint Committee.
Appeal of Jones ' The appeal of Jones was against the decision of the Commissioners not to allow increases that would allow the company to increase its revenue in a full year by £8400. The Commissioners stated that in 1970 the estimated surplus of the company was £6754 whereas in fact a surplus of £10,350 was realized, despite a reduced grant and industrial dispute. They stated that the proposed fares would have been excessive and unreasonable.
On appeal the company argued that the increase would be only 55-60 per cent of the level of neighbouring NBC subsidiaries. It was agreed that the increases were less to secure additional revenue than to avoid upsetting the balance between Jones and neighbouring NBC companies with whom the company shared some if its network.
The respondents, the Area Joint Committee, said that it was offensive that the low fares of a company which was profitable had to be raised because other companies, who were charging high fares were not making a profit.
The Secretary of State did not wholly agree with the Inspector's view that the continuance of differential fares levels between the company and other NBC companies in common areas must be assumed to be the policy of the NBC. It was agreed, however, that the increases were modest by comparison with other NBC companies and because it was agreed that no hardship would result from the increases the appeal was allowed.