25th July 2018
I admire and appreciate the significant contribution made by charities that run transport services for their local communities, especially the vital services provided in the Devizes Constituency. They are crucial for helping older people and people with disabilities to engage with their friends and neighbours and live their daily lives with ease.
I am glad that the Government remains committed to supporting the community transport sector. But concerns have been raised that some community transport operators that use permits are competing with commercial operators, which are required to hold a Public Service Vehicles (PSV) licence, this is not allowed by European Union (EU) law.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is currently considering the responses to its consultation on how to clarify domestic law, and will outline the next steps shortly. I do expect that the majority of community transport operators should not be affected by any clarification of the EU rules.
The DfT is looking at ways to support the sector during this period, and they are making £250,000 available to fund advice for operators who may need a PSV licence. The DfT will also work closely with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to ensure a proportionate approach is taken towards enforcement of these rules.
This is part of a longstanding commitment to community transport services. Since 2014, the Government has bought over 400 new minibuses for community transport groups, partly funded the Community Transport Association in England, and offered direct support to operators through the Bus Service Operators Grant scheme including, locally, Sunflowers at Grafton and The Combine Bus.
I am in regular contact with Community Transport operators across the Constituency and recently wrote to Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport at the Department for Transport and I have attached his response for your information.
I am proud of the support and help that has been given to community transport services, and I will be following this issue closely so these vital services can continue.