The Scottish Region's 2006 Annual Dinner was held on Thursday 28th September 2006 in the Airth Castle Hotel and Spa Resort, one of Scotland's leading hotels.
Ken Thomson welcoming members and guests to the Scottish Region's 2006 Annual dinner.
© John G. Fender 2011
Members and guests were greeted by the Chairman and other Committee members and were able to enjoy pre-dinner drinks at the business and guests reception. The master of Ceremonies was Committee Member, Ken Thomson. Grace was given by George Brown and after the Loyal Toast there was a short break, before the various speakers were heard.
In his address, the Scottish Region Chairman, John Yellowlees, welcomed members and guests to the dinner pointing out that this part of the country was the "UFO Capital of Scotland" and suggested that this might be due to the same area having the highest number of lottery winners. He then introduced the after dinner speakers, Mr. Brian Souter, Group Chief Executive of Stagecoach plc and Mr. Len Murray who would be giving the informal address.
Scottish Region Committee Member Marion Mackay being presented with a gift in reconition of her outstanding service to the Scottish Region.
© John G. Fender 2011
The Chairman then presented Marion Mackay, who has for many years organised the north-east area's programme of events without assistance with a gift in recognition of her outstanding service to the Institute in Scotland.
In an humorous speech, Brian Souter, in his speech, spoke of the early days of bus operation, pointing out that it was nearly 20 years since bus deregulation took place. At that time he had set up the "Magicbus" operation in Glasgow and spoke of the first few days of operation. The budget for this included, amongst the more normal items, £45 for the hire of a "magic rabbit" suit for promotional purposes. The magic rabbit would travel on the service to Castlemilk to help promote it. He also told the story of a driver who telephoned the control room saying he was having problems with water in the diesel - apparently his bus was in the river.
Mr. Souter said that winning the SWT rail franchise was a great relief and that the company was looking forward to building on its success in operating rail services. He said that the customers in the SWT area were the best clientele in Britain and even their letters of complaint were written in the best Queen's English and using fountain pens.
Brian Souter, Group Chief Executive of Stagecoach plc speaking at the Scottish Region's Annual Dinner.
© John G. Fender 2011
Turning to the present position the industry found itself in, Mr. Souter said that there is a lack of bus services in some areas and that a successful transport policy was needed to address the problems. With an election coming up the politicians needed to look at ideas that could be shown to work. He called for a greater partnership approach as this will provide freedom to deliver what is needed. He looked a the role that capital and enterprise played and said that whilst it was easy to legislate, it was the case that there needs to be the will to provide priority measures. He also said that parking charges and road pricing would have a part to play in the future.
This future would be determined by ideas and he warned against slipping back to the way of thinking that permeated bus operations in the 1960's and 1970's. The future would be determined by the dynamic ideas from the private sector and politicians need conviction to implement new schemes successfully. He referred to the very successful national travel concession scheme in Scotland and the innovations that the Bus Route Development Grants had made possible. The key to success was partnerships wit local authorities.
In rounding off his speech, Mr. Souter said that Scotland leads the rest of the UK in public transport provision as two of the biggest companies, First Group and Stagecoach, are Scottish based and that more buses were built by Alexander Dennis in Falkirk that in the rest of the UK put together. Scotland he said, can and does lead the field in public transport.
The final speaker of the evening was Mr. Len Murray, a retired solicitor who provided the audience with a humorous account of some of his experiences. He drew some amusing comparisons between the east and west of the country. For example, in Edinburgh, two men singing and dancing in the street would be considered part of the festival fringe - in Glasgow it would be breach of the peace. In Edinburgh, a table and chairs on the pavement would be a continental cafe but in Glasgow would be a warrant sale! He also spoke about many other topics, all in an entertaining and humorous manner including the story of the couple who had been happily married for 8 years and only sought a divorce after 40 as neither wanted custody of the children!
David Reid then conducted the prize raffle to raise funds for "Transaid", the Transport Charity supported by the Institute. With a number of prizes to be won ranging from a Rover ticket for Caledonian MacBrayne's ferry network, weekend for two at the Airth Castle Hotel and Spa to some bottles of malt whisky and other items, the substantial sum of £2255 was raised.
The evening concluded with Ken Thomson thanking members and guests for their attendance, the staff at the Airth Castle Hotel for their excellent service, our sponsors, Caledonian MacBrayne, First Group, Transport Scotland and Steer Davies Gleave for their support, and those who donated the prizes for the raffle, all of which has made the evening so successful.
Report by John Fender.
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