Not enough competition? Better to have no services at all!

01 August 2012

Strange goings-on in North Devon. First, who run many of the services there, wish to pull out and sell their business to Stagecoach. Enter the Office of Fair Trading (OfT) who have to ensure that such sales are in the consumer interest – as measured by the diminution of competition. For reasons not yet entirely clear the OFT have referred the matter to the Competition Commission for a formal ruling – or, in other words, kicked it into the long grass.

Yet now we hear Stagecoach may just go ahead and run its own services anyway – so little short-term competition and more upheaval.

A number of things need probing: the short and long-term consumer interest can be very different; given the scale of the issue a full referral hardly seems like modern, responsive regulation; and the overall transport needs of the region are not being taken account of. We will go and see the OFT and try to understand more.

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