The Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament Transport Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, Cathy Peattie, has tabled a motion in the parliament calling for a halt to the ScotRail franchise extension, a Scottish Parliament inquiry, and for the Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson, to make a statement to MSPs. She is also planning to raise the issue at the TICC committee.
The call follows the resignation of Guy Houston, the finance director of Transport Scotland, following the publication of an Audit Scotland report that criticised his participation in key meetings to discuss the extension of the ScotRail franchise, without declaring his financial interests in First ScotRail’s parent company, FirstGroup.
The report was also critical of Transport Scotland for not consulting external bodies on the franchise review, and the lack of a fully documented business case being presented to the Minister for Transport.
Cathy Peattie, who is the Labour MSP for Falkirk East, said:
“Many of us had strong misgivings about the way this was handled, not least the lack of consultation and the difficulty involved in trying to get adequate detail of the terms of the extension. Now it is clear that we were right to be concerned.
“The Scottish Government pushed ahead with scant regard for our concerns, but now they should step back and take a fresh look at the franchise extension in the light of this report. They should not allow themselves to be taken for a ride in this way.
“The Minister should come to parliament to explain himself and be questioned. There should be an inquiry, by the parliament since the government is clearly implicated for its lack of scrutiny. I shall call for the TICC committee to look into the mishandling of the franchise extension.
“A proper inquiry by the committee would take time, but the extension should not be allowed to proceed until the question marks hanging over it are properly answered.”