The annual report

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Delivering her final annual report to the Secretary of State as Senior Traffic Commissioner, Beverley Bell calls for fee and legislative reform to remain high on the agenda, as Dominic Ward reports

The Traffic Commissioners (TCs) have released their annual report for 2016-17. Published in late December, 2017, the report provides analysis from the period’s seven-strong team of TCs across England, Wales & Scotland.

The report aired details on the year across each traffic area, including the launch of the new digital licencing platform, but also highlighted some concerns on staffing issues – which appears to be a big issue for most traffic areas.

Opening remarks

In her final report foreword, Ms. Beverly Bell said: “Last year I reported that TCs want to support industry and introduce change, granting genuine applications in four weeks instead of nine. We said that we want to take strong action against errant operators quickly but we need to be properly funded to do this and I referred to the low costs of obtaining licences when compared to many other regulators.

“I was pleased to see my comments sparked some debate in the trade press, which I read with interest, and I would like to remind you (and the press) that the fee to obtain a licence is not just spent on dealing with non-compliant operators. Indeed the vast majority of our fee income is spent on servicing the licences of compliant operators, and the cost of non-compliance work is borne elsewhere. It is therefore vital that any fee reform takes account of this work to ensure an equitable spread of costs amongst licence holders.”

Presently, the initial licence application and grant fees for a goods licence total £651 with a continuation fee of £401 every five years, meaning that the annual cost of a licence is less than £100. A PSV licence costs even less as the application fee is just £209 with no regular continuation fee as this is collected as part of the annual test fee.

Ms. Bell said that a cursory look at the fees of some other regulators will show just how low and disproportionate O-licence fees are, adding “they have been for far too long.”

Richard Turfitt, TC for the East of England, has since taken over the role of Senior Traffic Commissioner. In his report, he praised the Vehicle Operator Licencing platform
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