In Parliament today I raised concerns about proposed UK Government changes to community transport.
The UK Government is currently consulting on a change to legislation which would mean organisations that deliver community transport as their main occupation may need to deliver their services under a commercial operator’s licence (a PSV O Licence) in future. It is also suggested that drivers for any not-for-profit organisation who undertake paid work would need to obtain a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC).
At Welsh Questions I said “Community transport operators in Wales have many valuable functions, including helping isolated people get to the shops, doctors, friends and family. They will be very, very hard hit by government changes which will mean extra licensing and certification. The Community Transport Association say this affect 95% of operators, so what will the Minister do with the Department for Transport to help them listen and make changes?”
The UK’s community transport permit system and the vital services it enables were created to meet the needs that bus companies can’t always meet. This is true for the excellent Grass Routes service which operates in Monmouthshire in the east of my constituency.
There are big questions about who will actually benefit from the changes the UK Government are suggesting, and there are so many potential losers across the country. It’s important that the UK Government are satisfied that they are regulating in the right way to comply with regulations from the European Commission, but first and foremost their priority has to be keeping these vital services in good shape so they can continue to deliver the benefits that many of our most vulnerable citizens rely upon for a decent quality of life and sense of belonging.
Figures from the Community Transport Association Wales show that 140,000 individuals and 3,500 groups are registered to use community transport in Wales. These services deliver approximately 2 million passenger journeys per year, travelling 6 million miles. The sector is predominantly volunteer-led, with nearly 2,000 volunteers giving their time freely to ensure services can be delivered. This contribution is worth £1.5m to the Welsh economy.