You’re hired! Former MP takes the helm at bus company

You're hired! Former Lewes MP shakes hands with The Big Lemon chief executive Tom Druitt
You're hired! Former Lewes MP shakes hands with The Big Lemon chief executive Tom Druitt

He was once MP for Lewes, but now Norman Baker has been appointed as managing director of Brighton bus company The Big Lemon.

The Liberal Democrat - who lost his parliamentary seat in 2015 - has turned his back on politics, to work at an eco-friendly firm which runs its buses on cooking oil.

Norman Baker, former Lewes MP and new managing director of The Big Lemon, and Tom Druitt, founder and chief executive of the bus company

Norman Baker, former Lewes MP and new managing director of The Big Lemon, and Tom Druitt, founder and chief executive of the bus company

Mr Baker said: “I am delighted to be joining The Big Lemon, which has gone from strength to strength in recent times. I feel particularly at home with its strong environmental approach, showing you can run a successful business in an ethical manner.”

Tom Druitt, the founder and chief executive of The Big Lemon - and a Green councillor in Brighton and Hove - welcomed the appointment.

He said: “Norman has dedicated his life to his community, serving the people of Lewes for many years as their MP, and more recently bus users across the country as transport minister and latterly as chair of Bus Users UK. We’d be hard-pressed to find a stronger campaigner for better and more sustainable bus services to lead our organisation in Brighton and Hove, and we’re very much looking forward to working together.”

Mr Baker was MP for the Lewes area from 1997 until 2015 when he lost his seat to Conservative Maria Caulfield.

He was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport from 2010 to 2013, and took on the role as Minister of State of the Home Office in 2013, resigning just a year later.

Since leaving politics, Mr Baker served as chair of Bus Users UK, working closely with chief executive Claire Walters in raising the profile of bus users. Mr Druitt said the former MP had helped to steer the organisation towards becoming a more diverse and representative body.

Mr Baker’s new full-time job at The Big Lemon offers a salary of between £40,000 and £45,000 and involves overseeing 16 full-time staff and a fleet of ten buses and coaches. He is set to start work on Tuesday (March 21).

The Big Lemon runs bus routes and coach hire services in and around Brighton and Hove using waste cooking oil from local restaurants, and is launching two electric buses in April which will be powered by solar energy generated on the roof of the bus depot.

Mr Druitt said the appointment is part of The Big Lemon’s ambition to develop a national network of locally-owned social enterprises providing affordable public transport, with zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy.