Calls to safeguard the future of community transport schemes


Ben Lake MP voices concerns that UK Department for Transport proposals could hinder the sustainability of the community transport sector in rural Wales.

Following a the UK Department for Transport’s consultation on community transport permits (Section 19 & 22), MPs debated the impact of the proposals during a debate at Westminster.

Currently, an organisation operating in the UK that accepts any sort of payment for providing transport to passengers must hold either a public service vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence or a private hire vehicle licence. However, organisations that provide transport on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis can apply for permits under Section 19 or Section 22 of the Transport Act 1985. As holders of the section 19 and 22 permits don’t need a PSV operator’s licence or the costly regulations including DVSA maintenance and standards, their low operating costs enable them to be more competitively priced when bidding for publicly funded contracts.

Recent estimates from Community Transport Action Group Cymru suggest that the proposed new guidance could see 95% of all organisations running not-for-profit transport impacted, and required to spend large amounts of money to become compliant - with individual organisations possibly faced with costs from £10,000 up to figures of well over a million.

Across west Wales, Community Transport provides a vital service for many not-for-profit organisations such as churches, schools, youth groups and charities. Ben Lake MP has raised significant concerns that the proposals may have detrimental effect such services. 

Speaking in Parliament, Ben Lake MP particularly raised concerns as to what impact the proposals could have on vulnerable people, who are often reliant on community transport provision.

Ben Lake MP said:

“Community transport schemes are often used by the most vulnerable in society and by people who otherwise would not be able to travel, in areas where commercial services are simply unviable. The UK Government should not underestimate the impact these proposed changes could have on vulnerable people, and especially those living in rural areas.

“Community transport offers benefits other than simply transporting people from door to door.  It brings people together, helps improves physical and mental health, tackle social isolation in rural areas and provides a friendly local transport service.

“Transport and health are inextricably linked and I am concerned that if these proposals are implemented, people will lose access to local amenities, leisure facilities and employment opportunities, which will inevitably have a significant impact on their physical and mental well-being. I hope that the UK Government will consider the arguments made during the debate carefully, and amend their proposals accordingly.”

In a letter received by Ben Lake MP following the debate, the UK Minister for Transport stated:

“The Department acknowledges the uncertainty in the sector and is well aware that many local authorities and permit issuing bodies are unsure about how to proceed.

“The community transport sector is unique to the UK, and it is a shining example of communities pulling together for the common good. There is a legal question to answer here, but officials are analysing responses [to the consultation] with a view to finding solution, not putting up barriers.”

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