Pressure group urged CTOs not to answer DfT

Pressure group urged CTOs not to answer DfT consultation questions

Email obtained by Bus & Coach Buyer has revealed that Mobility Matters urged community transport operators (CTOs) not to answer four questions in the Government’s consultation on community transport, which ended on 4 May.

Just weeks before the close of the consultation, the Chair of the organisation, Anna Whitty MBE, recommended that CTOs await advice from Mobility Matters before answering unspecified questions about their compliance with the new Department for Transport guidance. The pressure group said in the email that the DfT had agreed to these omissions, which set out to establish current use of Section 19 permits by CTOs.

Mrs Whitty said the reason was that ‘MM is concerned that operators’ individual responses to specific questions about current compliance with the DfT’s proposed interpretation will in principle be in the public domain and available to the sector’s opponents.’

Instead, Mrs Whitty says in communication dated 13 March that the DfT agreed to allow Mobility Matters and the Community Transport Association to collate the information via their own survey, and redact details of the CTOs responding to the survey, to produce a report which would be accepted by DfT as evidence of the use of Section 19 permits.

Mobility Matters also sent CTOs a template letter for their MP which said ‘new rules’ were being imposed on CTOs. It went on to brief MPs that the new guidance was the result of ‘a very small group of commercial operators who are claiming – wrongly – that community transport amounts to unfair competition.’

“It’s clear the sector has something to hide,” said Martin Allen, of the Bus and Coach Association. “The acceptance of DfT to carry out the procedure is not in line with the consultation process.” Referring to his EC challenge, Mr Allen added: “If it’s to be the courts, then so be it.”

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