Potential licensing changes for community transport in Devon could have a 'detrimental effect'
PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:16 14 May 2018
Concerns have been raised about the detrimental impact that potential licensing changes for community transport could have on Devon's vulnerable people.
In its response to the Department for Transport’s national consultation on the licensing of community transport to comply with EU regulations, Devon County Council (DCC) has highlighted how the proposals could affect the county’s passengers and community transport operators.
If the proposals are introduced, voluntary and community transport groups will either have to achieve full commercial licensing standards or meet certain restrictions to gain an exemption from EU rules.
DCC says this could bring significant additional costs to the sector and may make it uneconomical for some groups to continue to operate.
It has warned that a reduction in community transport services may increase the amount of public spending required to maintain essential transport services for vulnerable people – such as elderly and disabled people and those in isolated rural areas without access to public transport. A reduction in community transport services could put more pressure on statutory services, particularly social care and the NHS.
Councillor Roger Croad, DCC’s cabinet member with responsibility for community transport, said: “The future of essential community transport services is at stake, which is why it’s so important that we lobby the Government on these issues.
“Many community transport groups are already struggling to replace retiring volunteers, and additional licensing requirements are likely to result in more volunteers leaving schemes.
“A smaller pool of qualified drivers could result in marginal services being withdrawn and vulnerable passengers losing out.
“In Devon there is already a local shortage of Passenger Carrying Vehicle drivers for commercial operators.”
Community transport schemes are widespread across Devon but they typically operate only one or two minibuses - and none operate more than 10 vehicles.
Community transport schemes which DCC helps to support includes TRIP Community Transport Association in Honiton, Axe Valley Ring and Ride and Exmouth and District Community Transport Group.