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News Report Page 11 of 17
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What will happen if proposed National Express takeover of rival Stagecoach is approved?

NATIONAL Express Group plc ("National Express") on 14 December 2021, Ignacio Garat, Group Chief Executive Officer announced that that had agreed an all share takeover of rival Stagecoach Group plc ("Stagecoach") subject to a number of approvals from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Both companies currently provide key bus services throughout the UK. Stagecoach alone provides a vital transport link to around 2.5 million people daily. On Merseyside, Cheshire South Lancashire and parts of Greater Manchester, along with any other areas of the UK, both are a familiar sight on our roads. National Express within the deal will bring together 2 of the UK's biggest transport firms. Within the ₤1.9bn deal, National Express shareholders will own around 75% of the combined group and Stagecoach shareholders around 25%. This will make it the large bus operator within the UK, leaving both in 2nd place First and Arriva in 3rd place.

The public transport operator, National Express Group Plc, who are based in Birmingham. They own and lease buses, coaches and trains, which is used to deliver local, regional, national and international transportation services. Despite being run from the United Kingdom, they also provide and deliver transport services in:- Continental Europe, North Africa, North America and the Middle East. The Companies transportation services operations run within approximately 8 countries, which includes:- United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Spain, Morocco, Switzerland, Germany and Bahrain. The Company's segment includes:- UK, German Rail, ALSA (predominantly Spain and Morocco) and North America (USA and Canada). The UK segment offers bus and coach services. The German Rail segment currently operates 2 train services within Germany. ALSA (predominantly Spain and Morocco) segment offers bus and coach services. The North America (USA and Canada) segment offers School bus, transit bus and shuttle services. This announcement will only affect UK operations, but for the company as a whole, this should come as good news. The deal means will create a combined firm worth about ₤1.9bn, with a fleet of about 40,000 vehicles and a workforce of about 70,000. We understand that it is being reported that 50 jobs are expected to be cut from the head offices, IT and corporate departments of the 2 firms, under plans to slash annual costs following the merger. But the companies stressed there would be no job losses among drivers, or depot closures, as a result of the deal.

Ignacio Garat, Chief Executive Officer of National Express, said:- "The proposed combination of National Express and Stagecoach, and the unique strengths of both companies and their teams, will create a leading multi modal passenger transport business in the UK, aiming to deliver superb services to customers and forging the way to a carbon free future with a new generation of zero-emission buses and coaches. The combined group will also benefit from the significant growth and cost synergies and a stronger balance sheet to significantly accelerate growth investment across our diversified international portfolio, aiming to deliver attractive sustainable returns to shareholders."

This announcements might come as quite a shock to passengers who use its services. Stagecoach grew to be 1 of the dominant transport companies in Britain, even partnering with Virgin on railways, and developing overseas operations from the USA to Malawi. In Merseyside and South Lancashire, back in 2019, Stagecoach introduced Stagecoach Gold, to routes like the x2, that runs from Liverpool to Preston, via Southport, as part of its 'Gold Fleet.' These have been very distinctive busses provide an excellent alternative to the car. Now many passengers in our area are asking what will happen next to these routes, especially as they provide the only major public transport link between Southport and Preston. Its hoped that this take over, as expressed within the video put online by National Express, will increase the ability keep to providing better services and upgrades, like the gold busses to these vital bus routes, through the introduction of new electric and hydrogen vehicles.

Stagecoach Group who are currently owned by a Scottish transport group based in Perth, Scotland, and has been running since 1980, said in a statement:- "We have announced today that we are moving forward with a proposal to combine Stagecoach and National Express. We are proud to have served communities across the UK for over 40 years and combining our business with National Express will provide us with new exciting opportunities. It will enable us to offer more services to more people and continue investing in improvements for customers. As 2 of the UK's iconic transport groups, Stagecoach and National Express have a strong track record of running reliable, great value, high quality and safe services for customers. That will continue to be our priority as we move forward. The proposal is subject to a number of approvals, which we expect to be completed around the end of 2022. Rest assured that for now it remains business as usual for our people and we are continuing to deliver our services as normal. Thank you for travelling with us."

To find out more please go to:- BRRMedia.Co.UK and NationalExpressGroup.Com.

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Please email us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

Police Commissioner responds to launch of Victims' Bill consultation

ON 9 December 2021, Merseyside's Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell responded to a series of reforms to the criminal justice system announced by the Government. The announcement from Justice Secretary Dominic Raab sets out plans to consult on the 1st ever Victims' Law, new scorecards published to increase transparency and hold criminal justice agencies to account and plans for community impact statements which would provide an opportunity to give a collective response to amplify victims' voices. A scheme sparing rape victims the stress of testifying in Court will also be rolled out nationwide.

Emily Spurrell said:- "For far too long our criminal justice system has been desperately underfunded and has failed to meet the needs of victims and survivors. All too often they feel ignored and overlooked. Instead of walking away from a courtroom feeling empowered, they are left retraumatised and deeply let down. The launch of this consultation by the Government today is a vital step in the creation of a long overdue Victims' Law. We must use this watershed moment to change the system for the better, ensuring it is designed to support and care for victims, truly listen to their voices and put their needs and experiences at the heart of the process. The outcome rates for survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence, in particular, are appallingly low. We must use this opportunity to radically improve their experiences. The decision to accelerate the roll out of Section 28, enabling victims of sexual and modern slavery offences to pre-record their evidence and be spared the trauma of giving evidence in Court, is a really positive 1st step in that process. Crucially though, adequate funding must be provided to criminal justice agencies to implement these important changes. I also welcome plans to increase the Victims' Surcharge, ensuring criminals contribute far more towards vital services supporting those who have been subjected to harm. Many of these essential services have been chronically underfunded for far too long and are crying out for greater investment. I note with interest that the consultation suggests increasing the role of Police and Crime Commissioners in relation to helping victims who do not get the support to which they are entitled. This is a responsibility I would whole heartedly embrace and I eagerly await more information about how this would look in reality. An important part of my role already is to monitor the entire criminal justice system across Merseyside. The publication of these quarterly performance scorecards will help me and my partners within Merseyside's Criminal Justice Board to make national comparisons, identify good practice and make sure every agency is playing its part in improving the response for victims across our Region. While this announcement is very welcome, there is much more to do if we are to drastically improve the support offered to victims. I sincerely hope this is just the start of the process in changing our system for the better. We need everyone's help to make this new Victims' Bill as effective as possible and I would encourage everyone to have their say during the 8 week consultation."


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