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Operator may cut services

Tuesday, 6th December, 2011

Buses R Us points finger at Council

Broken Hill’s only interstate bus operator might have to reduce its services after its bid to take over the running of the Tourist and Travellers Centre was rejected by City Council.

Buses R Us, which operates services to Adelaide and Mildura, said leasing the centre from Council would have provided the company with another important revenue stream and helped secure its viability.

Managing director Geoff Grantham said Council’s decision to reject its proposal, and instead lease out shop space to a number of parties, was disappointing.

“I have concerns about the working committee that made the closed door decision and would not allow us to present our case,” Mr Grantham said.

“I don’t think we have been given a fair go, but we won’t be taking any action against council.”

But Mr Grantham said in light of the decision his company might now have to reconsider the services it runs out of Broken Hill.

“We may have to review our schedules and cut down our service from three times a week to two times a week,” he said.

Council earlier this year advertised for expressions of interest in the centre and is now negotiating with a number of parties for shop space, including the cafe which has been closed for months.

Mr Grantham, whose proposal included re-opening the cafe, said he had doubts a stand alone cafe operator would survive and that Council appeared to choose a lessee on cost, which seemed ironic.

“If they are only interested in saving money, why do they close the centre from 3pm (and will continue to do so) until February but keep staff there until 5pm.”

Council’s General Manager Frank Zaknich defended the decision making process.

He said the expressions of interest were considered by a panel of council managers and an independent, external person.

“The panel made a recommendation and council considered the expressions of interest,” he said.

“The proposal that was accepted was the one that provided the best value for Council in terms of the criteria provided.”

Mr Zaknich said Council wanted to provide a good balance of commercial reality and long term benefit.

He said Council was still negotiating with a number of parties for shop space, including the operators of Silver City Scenic Flights, and there would be announcements in the near future about other new lessees.

“(As for) the remaining vacant space; Council will continue to offer to lease,” Mr Zaknich said.

“Council’s objective is to ensure the Tourist and Travellers Centre which incorporates Council’s Visitor Information Centre, will become a hub for activity.

“Council is quite excited about the future lessee’s and those announcements will be made in the very near future.”

Mr Zaknich also defended Council’s decision to shut the VIC at the earlier time of 3pm during summer, saying it was a slow time in the tourist season.

He said while the centre will close early, staff would continue to work their normal hours.

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