Friday, 22 July 2016

The Answer's a Lemon (3)

And It's Small in Size But Big In Ideas
The company began in 2007 and attempted to gain a foothold in the University market operating from the centre of town to Falmer with route 42 and variations. It was a brave, and frankly foolhardy, move to try and compete with a large high quality operator. GoAhead Brighton and Hove's service 25 has always been frequent.
Today's core service offers eight buses an hour during term time ...
... reducing to every 15 minutes during the vacation.
This is supplements by a limited stop 25X running every 10 minutes.
The night bus service also runs every 10, reducing to every half an hour when the majority of students are "resting" (?) and away from their studies.
Frequencies were not quite so high when the lemon started, but, like all good lemons it was eventually squeezed.

Various attempts to make a go of the business on the Falmer road eventually had to be abandoned. Whilst the stickability of "the team" is to be admired, it does seem strange that enterprising newcomers seem to think that the incumbent operator should be only too pleased to see their profits being eroded.

So it was that in 2012 the company won a tender to run the service 52.
This was a contract with Brighton City Council ...
... and runs every 90 minutes Monday to Saturday on a "one bus in steam" basis.
But that is not to company's only business. There is traditional coach hire ...
... and a service for Brighton University (former Polytechnic) linking its two city sites of Falmer and Moulsecoomb.
But what marks the lemon as different is its passion (some would say obsession) for ethical environmental business.

To this end, The Big Lemon is a Community Interest Company.

A community interest company is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners. CICs tackle a wide range of social and environmental issues and operate in all parts of the economy. By using business solutions to achieve public good, it is believed that CICs have a distinct and valuable role to play in helping create a strong, sustainable and socially inclusive economy.

The interest in the environment is illustrated by the back of a lemon!
But chip fat is not enough for Tom Druitt, member of The Green Party; he has decided to go further.
And here is what it is all about, at least in sketch form.
All very impressive, but fbb can hear his readers, notably those with financial responsibility for a business, offering such opinions as "is he made of money", "it can't be long before he goes bust" etc etc.

But here is a report for their last Annual General Meeting.

After a presentation and questions over last year’s progress and our plans for this year we got down to the formal business of the AGM, which was to decide how to allocate the company’s surpluses, and vote fresh talent onto our Board of Directors.

Finally, we discussed how we allocate our surpluses.  There was a proposal from the Board that 80% of our profits will be re-invested, 10% will be paid in a dividend to our shareholders – the first dividend we’ve ever paid – and 10% to our staff as a thank you for all the hard work. Happily, everyone agreed unanimously to the proposal and a motion to have equal staff and shareholder ‘pots’ moving forward was also unanimously supported.

They actually paid a dividend to their shareholders for the first time!

For boss Tom Druitt ...
... and his colleagues the answer is most definitely a lemon; but, unusually, it would appear to be sweet not sour.

Well done all concerned!

 Next railway blog : Saturday 23rd July 

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