Former Government Home Office Minister Norman Baker proved he had quickly put his spat with Home Secretary Theresa May behind him as he swapped his ministerial duties forfronting his rock band The Reform Club at the routeoneOperator Excellence Awards on Wednesday night (5 November).
Mr Baker, the MP for Lewes, and a former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, led his quintetthrough a rousing set of 50s and 60s covers and self-penned numbers, including the band’s single Piccadilly Circus,as well as a few tracks from their 2013 debut album ‘Always Tomorrow’,during a surprise appearance at the gala night.
Watch Norman Bakerperformhis single Piccadilly Circus at theRoute One Awards night
Mr Baker was in the news after resigning his post at the Home Office, citing irreconcilable difference with his boss, the Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May.
In his resignation letter to Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, Liberal Democrat Mr Baker said it had “been particularly challenging being the only Lib Dem in the Home Office”.
“I see a newspaper the other day likened [it]to being the only hippy at an Iron Maiden concert,” he wrote.
Mr Baker, formerly Minister for Transport, continued: “In stark contrast to the Department for Transport, I regret that in the Home Office, the goodwill to work collegiately to take forward rational evidence-based policy has been in somewhat short supply.
“I have concluded, therefore, that for the time being at least, my time is better spent out of ministerial office.â€
Mr Baker was a popular minister with thetransport industry, and had attendedNEC showsin an official categoryon threeprevious years. He remains popular in the bus and coach industry and was clearly thrilled to be able to perform at the routeoneAwards just one day after he left The Home Office.
The set by The Reform Club topped off a fantastic night for the bus and coach world as teams, individuals and companies were recognised for their excellence at the prestigious awards. Held at Birmingham’s Hilton Metropole, over 790 industry people were there to watch Mr Baker’s band perform at the sold out awards dinner. The event was hosted by comedian Tim Vine,winner of the award for best joke at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010 and 2014*,and BBC Breakfast TV business presenter Stephanie McGovern.
Group Director Mark Griffin at Diversified Communications, publishers of routeonesaid, “It was a real pleasure to host Norman and his band. I have to admit to being slightly nervy when I saw the news of his resignation on Monday night, just before EBE opened. He clearly enjoyed the evening, saying that it was a really great way to share his passion for music as he was backamongst his many genuine friends and colleagues in the transport industry. He did not disappoint and it was a night I’ll never forget.”
Now firmly established as the industry’s premier awards, the routeoneOperator Excellence Awards recognise operators and people in the industry who have made a real difference to a company’s operations and business.
Amongst the operator awards on the night were wins for Anthony’s Travel in the Small Coach Operator of the Year category, The Kings Ferry for the Large Coach Operator of the Year and Stagecoach in Northamptonshire as Large Bus Operator of the Year. Passenger Plus of Ashford wasrecognised in theExcellence in Minibus Operation sector.
For individuals David Heptinstall, of Stagecoach Midlands, was selected as Engineer of the Year, large operator.Helen Jeacock, Head of Operations, Stewarts Coaches took theManager of the Year, small and medium operator plaudits. And First Aberdeen Director Joe Mackie was the eighth recipient of the prestigious routeoneIndustry Special Award.
All 16winners had been selected after a rigorous judging process that started with written submissions in May, to enable the panel of independent judges to determine the shortlists. These finalists are then invited to submit detailed supplementary information before the final decisions on the winners were made.
Shortlisting of the finalists followed in June/July, and the final judging took place in August.
In the event of the judges needing further evidence, they arrange to either visit or interview finalists.
*Vine claimed the prize this year with the quip: “I’ve decided to sell my Hoover â€¦ well, it was just collecting dust.”