To see the potential effect of David Cameron’s desire to bring private sector expertise to the public sector, one has only to read the articles and letters in the Yorkshire Evening Post about the state of the private, local bus services.
When Mr Cameron’s predecessor Margaret Thatcher handed over publicly run bus services to private companies in 1986, bus services stopped being about meeting the needs of people and communities and became about delivering a dividend to bus company shareholders. The promised competition materialised briefly but was quickly replaced by the situation we have today where, having undercut and swallowed up most of the small companies, a handful of large bus operators have carved up the country into a series of monopolies.
So much so that the state of the industry is being investigated by the Competition Commission.
In the 25 or so years since privatisation, apart from in the capital where the services are run on a franchise basis controlled by Transport for London, passenger numbers have declined and services have become more and more scarce, with the public sector left to pick up the bill for those that don’t turn a profit, through our taxes.
And this is the model that Mr Cameron would like to see for many more public services, which he says will provide us with ‘choice’. Given the choice on buses I think most people would pick a proper public service run for them over a private one run for profit.
Maxine Watt Beeston Leeds