DfT acknowledges infraction notice
The Department for Transport has now formally acknowledged that it has received the notice of infraction issued by the European Commission in response to the Bus and Coach Association’s efforts to create a more level playing field on the issue of not for profit organisations being treated as non commercial.
The statement reads, ‘On 30th April 2015, the Department for Transport received a formal notice of infraction from the European Commission concerning the UK Government’s application of Regulation (EC) no 1071/2009 (on access to the occupation of a road transport operator). We will consider the content of this letter and provide a response within two months, in line with Article 258 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). At this stage, no decisions have been made about any action the UK may take in the light of issues raised by the Commission.’
Trade organisations across the industry have responded to the Government statement. CPT has advised its members that this marks the start of what could be a long progress and that there would be no policy changes in the short term.
ATCO and CTA have issued a joint statement published on the ATCO website acknowledging that whilst one outcome of the proceedings could prohibit community transport operators from delivering certain types of contracts under Section 19 permits, they do not see this as a foregone conclusion. They have advised members that nothing can be deemed to have changed until the proceedings are completed and that nothing may change as a result of them. They have also urged that any communication suggesting that the situation has changed or is about to change be disregarded.
Bus and coach safety organisation, BUSK, has issued a statement objecting to local authorities (LA) awarding home to school contracts to CTA groups and other volunteers that operate on a section 19 permit. This is on grounds of claims they are not checked for their suitability to transport or work with children; there is no legal requirement to operate to a commercial standard and, according to the campaign group, ‘just about anyone can drive’. BUSK believes LAs working in this way are failing in a duty of care. If a council insists on specific, high standards from commercial companies undertaking school work but drops this standard when it comes to using CTA groups, then it is BUSK’s view that those authorities are reducing the safety standards on price alone.