Peter Aldous calls on Government to reconsider community transport licensing changes

10th May 2018

Peter Aldous calls on the Government to reconsider proposed changes to community transport licensing requirements which could have a detrimental impact on smaller operators such as BACT and HACT.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. I congratulate the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) on securing this debate and on her Select Committee’s work in scrutinising the impact of the changes. It is right that this debate is taking place now, just after the Government have closed their consultation on the use of section 19 and section 22 permits.

I want to pass on the concerns that two community organisations in my constituency, Bungay Area Community Transport and Halesworth Area Community Transport, have raised with me. There are five issues I will draw attention to. The first is the disproportionate impact on smaller operators. BACT and HACT have advised me that should the proposals go through, they will have to close.

My second point—the hon. Lady did refer to this—is that community transport generally complements, rather than competes with, commercial operators. BACT and HACT have made that point to me. There is a view that the Government are responding to the prompting of a small number of vocal commercial operators that are not representative of the commercial sector as a whole.

My third point is that there is a risk of a domino effect. If one service is closed, it can cascade all the way down through local economies, with redundancies, staff reductions, day centres closing, market towns having even more problems and banks having yet another excuse to close their branches.

My fourth point is that local and national Government have supported the sector for decades, and there is a very good reason for that: it is the best way of plugging this particular hole and meeting this existing demand. If the changes go through, I fear that Government will just have to come up with an alternative arrangement, in effect reinventing the wheel.

My final point is about the social and community role that these organisations provide. I will give one example that BACT brought to my attention. Mr and Mrs X are both disabled with walking difficulties, and Mr X has Parkinson’s. They live in a remote rural village and have no family close by. They make use of BACT’s car service for medical appointments, its dial-a-ride service to get them to the shops and its rural bus service once a week to get to the market town. They would be totally isolated without BACT, and they would probably be forced to leave their family home. In that context, I ask the Government to pause, go back and review the system, which has operated in this country—it is a British way of doing things—and should be allowed to continue.

Hansard

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Surgeries

Peter holds regular surgeries at various locations in the constituency. Please call 01502 586568 to make an appointment.

Next Surgeries - 2018: 

Lowestoft, Friday 9th November

 

 

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