OKEHAMPTON’S MP has promised to fight for local community transport (CT) groups in his constituency after their exemption from having to hold PSV licences has been challenged in the European Court.
Currently not-for-profit CT groups have been able to secure permits to carry passengers in a minibus or bus without requiring a Public Service Vehicle operator’s licence or require their volunteer drivers to have certain qualifications. However, a commercial bus company has recently challenged this, arguing that where such groups potentially compete with commercial operators, these exemptions would contradict EU competition law.
The UK Government has responded by launching a consultation on how it can clarify domestic law to ensure fair competition in line with EU law while continuing to provide as much support to CT groups as possible.
‘Community transport groups provide a hugely valuable service to a wide range of people including some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
‘These often include people who may be rurally isolated, on low incomes and older residents who can no longer drive or walk very far. I am very concerned about any changes which make it more difficult for these groups and their dedicated volunteers to operate. I have already written to the Department for Transport and will continue to work with community transport groups in my constituency to ensure the Government adopts a common-sense solution that provides the sector with the support it needs and ensures that any compliance costs are kept to an absolute minimum.’
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