Mike with Tom Druitt, Director of The Big Lemon.
Mike has written to the Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove City Council, John Barradell, on the subject of fair competition amongst bus companies locally. He has also written to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, regarding his Low Emission Zone scheme in London. The scheme was set up to encourage environmentally-friendly businesses and The Big Lemon is a Brighton-based environmentally-friendly business which is affected by the scheme. Despite The Big Lemon’s buses running on biodiesel, and having drastically lower emissions than most other diesel buses, they fall within the particular age of engine (pre-2001) that qualifies for a £200 penalty fee. The problem is that apparently Transport for London cannot verify their emissions. The absurdity of the situation was highlighted when The Big Lemon won the Dandelion Award for a sustainable business in 2009, yet when Tom and his team travelled to London to collect their prize they had to pay the £200 fee!
The text of the letter to the Council is as follows:
I write following a meeting with my constituent, Tom Druitt, in his capacity as Director of The Big Lemon, an environmentally-friendly bus company with which I know that you are already familiar.
Tom has highlighted to me a number of issues surrounding competition within Brighton & Hove, specifically concerning Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company. Of particular concern is the pricing structure that Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company has recently introduced on their number 23 and 25 bus routes. These concerns have also been conveyed to the Traffic Commissioner and the Office of Fair Trading to see if the changes contravene the Competition Act 1998.
As you might imagine, I am extremely keen to see competition in this important transport sector so that prices are low in the long-term. It would appear though that Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company is running a very hostile campaign against an emerging competitor which, if left unchecked, could result in the loss of a much-loved benevolent enterprise. I should be extremely grateful for your comments on this matter.
I thank you very much in advance for your assistance and I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
MIKE WEATHERLEY MP