The Bus and Coach Association’s (BCA) legal team has begun proceedings to force the DfT, DVSA and Traffic Commissioners to take action against community transport operators.
The BCA’s Martin Allen was partly responsible for forcing the arm of the Department for Transport to issue new guidance for Section 19/22 operators, with the aim of preventing direct competition with the commercial sector, particularly with public bus services and tendered contracts, which the BCA has claimed is contrary to EC Regulation 1071/2009. DfT guidance issued since July last year concurs.
The BCA also believes that many CTOs are operating for hire and reward, as defined in law, and need a commercial operating licence as set out in Section 12(5) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981. However, one investigation by the DVSA was suspended and, despite Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney advising that all operators taking money are for hire or reward, regardless of profitability, no Section 19 or 22 permit has ever been suspended.
BCA lawyers have now issued a pre-action protocol letter for Judicial Review. The letter was sent on the 10 August. A statement from BCA says: ‘The grounds for this action are as follows:
‘The ongoing failure by the DVSA to commence any prosecutions, or take other regulatory action, against any Community Transport Company (“CTC”) in the UK for breach of Section 12(5) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 (“1981 Act”); the failure to enforce EC Regulation 1071/2009; and the ongoing failure by the Traffic Commissioner to open a public inquiry, or otherwise take any regulatory action.’
The legal team has delivered three letters, one to each of the regulatory bodies.
A Judicial Review is a court proceeding which reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. Commonly, the process adjudicates on a public body’s failure to exercise its duties. The outcome can be a Mandatory Order or Injunction, which compels public authorities to fulfil their duties.