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Cash strapped Glasgow transport authority seeks voluntary redundancies

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport's chief executive has called on staff to take voluntary redundancy or early retirement in a desperate bid to plug a £2.5M budget deficit.

SPT chief executive Ron Culley has set out an offer of voluntary severance and early retirement to the company's 700 staff, describing it as "prudent housekeeping" in the current financial climate.

He stressed that SPT has been undertaking a detailed review of its budget and expressed confidence that it would "weather the storm".

SPT, which runs Glasgow's subway along with bus services in the region, has been hit by increased service costs and a substantial reduction in income as a result of interest rate cuts, alongside pressure to make efficiency savings.

Culley said there was an urgent need to take action to "close the gap" for coming years.

"The fact is that 81% of our business costs are spent in areas which are difficult to influence or reduce quickly.

"Fifty per cent of operating costs are salary related and some 22% of our budget is spent on subsidies to bus operators and bus services, with 9% on fuel and property costs.

"The savings we need to deliver are challenging but essential," said Culley.

The savings expected are proportionate to those testing Glasgow City Council as SPT faces a projected deficit of £500,000 in the year ahead and about £2.5M for 2010/11.

Money from planning receipts is falling dramatically in local authorities as demand for new developments declines and SPT has faced unprecedented hikes in fuel prices.

"Unfortunately we are no different from the thousands of businesses and organisations operating under severe financial pressure at the moment," said Culley.

"Like everyone else, we need to face up to practical solutions which will give us a balanced budget for the year ahead and in future years.

"Our funding comes from our own earnings, local authorities in the West of Scotland and Government - as they are affected. Like us, they are coping with serious financial problems at the moment.

"Our single purpose in this regard is to continue to maintain stability within SPT in order that we can continue to provide a high quality service to the travelling public of the West of Scotland.

"In consequence, we have undertaken a line-by-line review of all expenditure and are confident that, when implemented, we can weather the storm.

"While we anticipate that this redundancy offer will only be of interest to a small number of our staff, we have to make the offer to everyone in the interests of fairness.

"Participation in this scheme is voluntary, not compulsory. SPT will take into account operational requirements before agreeing a voluntary severance request and all such requests will be constrained by affordability."

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) was formed by bringing together Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority and Executive and the WESTRANS voluntary partnership.

The new SPT was established by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005 which created Scotland's seven Regional Transport Partnerships (RTPs). SPT retains many of the transport powers and functions which were previously exercised by Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority/Executive.

SPT's role now involves planning and delivering transport solutions for all modes of transport across the region. All aspects of transport have to be integrated - road, rail, freight, ferry, cycling and walking.

The SPT area comprises the following Council areas: East Dunbartonshire, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and the Helensburgh and Lomond area of Argyll and Bute.

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