The Community Transport Association has highlighted issues around the future of section 19 and 22 permits to its members
The Community Transport Association (CTA) said in the October issue of its publication News Brief, that a debate was held in the House of Commons on 25 October into the UK Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy. A number of MPs raised the issue of community transport, and the future of it.
CTA News Brief said that: “As part of the debate, Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, asked Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani MP about the status of the Department for Transport’s consultation on the future of section 19 and 22 permits.
She argued that the current uncertainty around the Department’s guidance is already having a negative impact on the community transport sector, with some local authorities withholding contracts from community transport providers “even though the response to the consultation has not been published and the Government have not issued new guidance.”
She continued: “When the Committee took evidence as part of our inquiry…we were struck by how many people referred to community transport as a lifeline. I am sure that the Minister has listened to concerns raised across the House. I hope she will take them into account when she publishes her response to the consultation and act to protect community transport, which is vital for so many people.”
In her response, Nusrat Ghani, who recently took over the brief that covers community transport, said: “I agree that community transport is vital, especially in the most rural constituencies. A consultation has indeed taken place and we are aiming to publish our response as soon as we can—I hope it will be in the next couple of months.
“It is vital to remember that clear guidance has been given by the Department to ensure that local authorities are not stopping taking contracts, and I am having as many conversations as I can to ensure that. Community transport is incredibly valuable and we need to make sure that any guidance we give lands appropriately; sometimes we may not fully calculate the language we use, but our motivations are to ensure that local community transport groups can continue to provide a service for the communities they wish to serve.”
Whilst the decision process is ongoing, CTA has said that community transport operators who have questions or need support can contact the CTA advice service on 0345 130 6195, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org