Pressure pays off as Government re-thinks community transport licence change
We've welcomed a Government re-think on proposed changes to the level of licence required to operate community transport schemes.
Currently organisations running community transport buses are exempt from the higher level 'O licensing' regulations required by commercial firms and are allowed to run under the lesser 'Section 19' rules.
The Department for Transport had signalled its intention to end the exemption − placing an extra cost on organisations which could have resulted in serious consequences.
The licence change would have meant each operator was required to have a designated transport manager, all drivers to have a higher level licence, and additional industry qualifications.
We lobbied the Government on behalf of operators, demanding immediate clarification on the proposals.
Now, the Department for Transport has responded − saying the exemption can continue to be used for the time being.
Our Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, Councillor Simon Spencer said:
"The indication was that the Department for Transport would have demanded community transport operators had the O Licence in the next few months, or would no longer be allowed to deliver services.
"Some operators told us this would have meant they would no longer be financially viable and would have closed down.
"This would have been a huge blow to Derbyshire as our community transport operators provide a vital service for the elderly and vulnerable."
Councillor Spencer added:
"We made our case to Government very strongly and are delighted that common sense has prevailed, allowing operators to continue providing services.
"Of course, we encourage community transport operators to work to the highest standards, but the haste with which the suggested changes were being forced through would have been damaging to vital services."
The five community transport groups currently operating in Derbyshire are independent organisations responsible for their own administrative and financial arrangements. They receive payments from us for operating services on our behalf.