TAS Partnership leads community transport fightback

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A number of CT operators join together in Mobility Matters campaign to formally contest section 19 and 22 changes

A number of Community Transport (CT) operators in the UK have joined together to form a campaign to challenge proposed changes to section 19 and 22 legislation. The campaign – called Mobility Matters – specifically contests the legislative changes set out in a letter from the Department for Transport (DfT) on July 31.

According to the campaign group, the letter asserts that this regulatory system, which it said has been the cornerstone of community transport operation since 1977, has largely been superseded by a 2009 European Regulation. It also stated that underlying the DfT’s letter is an unforeseen reinterpretation of the term ‘non-commercial’ that ‘flies in the face of all other guidance previously issued’ and current accepted practice.

Mobility Matters argues that the recommendations of the letter – if enforced – would have a catastrophic impact on the CT sector and its ability to provide essential transport to the individuals and communities it serves.

The campaign has claimed that due to the uncertainty caused by the letter, some CTs have ceased operations and some local authorities have taken the precautionary and pre-emptive stance of cancelling or changing the terms of contracts. This has happened despite no actual change in the law.

The campaign is being steered by a number of CTs from across the UK and is being facilitated by the TAS Partnership. The campaign sets out to:

  • Raise awareness at a political level and argue the case to the key powers that there is too little understanding of what the modern CT sector does and how, and the potential impacts of the loss of CT services if the letter is enforced;
  • Obtain an expert legal opinion to examine whether the DfT is either required or able to enforce its new interpretation of the regulations;
  • Provide clarity and advice to CTs and CT commissioners in the wake of the DfT’s letter – explaining in simple terms, the implications of any complex or unclear legalese;
  • Set out local and national evidence of the powerful social value of CT groups and their services; and
  • Provide a platform for airing problems and issues, and to offer mutual support.

TAS Director, John Taylor, explained: “It is important that people understand that the DfT letter is the result of an ongoing licensing hearing.

“Not only has this hearing yet to reach a final conclusion – it could potentially be appealed – it is not a decision by a court, nor does it constitute case-law. Changes in interpretation as drastic as are being proposed could impact on hundreds of thousands of people and need to be tested in a court before even thinking about implementation.

“At this moment the CT sector needs to use a unified voice and harness a collective energy to ensure it can continue to provide its unique and lifeline services which enable vital access to the most vulnerable, mobility-restricted, lonely and isolated members of the community. It could be any one of us or our loved ones that need these services either now or in the future and as a country, we are entirely reliant on the CT sector for their safe and affordable provision.

“To protect valuable services across the country, we believe that instead of what is proposed, a more holistic and fully sympathetic review of the permit system is needed. While such a review is ongoing, we urge the DfT to withdraw their letter. ”

CT operators who wish to register interest in the campaign should visit www.ctpermits.org or call Sarah Huntley on 07557 132775.