Community transport providers are asking the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to provide clarification regarding the current rules and regulations for Section 19 permits.
It follows a routine transport check at Two Rivers School in Tamworth, earlier this month, where the DVSA discovered that Section 19 drivers where being paid for driving community transport.
The finding resulted in Staffordshire County Council suspending all of Swadlincote Community Transport’s contracts with immediate effect and putting them out to emergency tender.
Eight of the contracts were linked in with O-licenced coach operators. The ninth was with a commercial ambulance service which does not hold an Operator Licence.
The council said it took the decision to freeze the contracts as it became unclear whether there had been amendments regarding Section 19 permits.
What is a Section 19 Permit?
Section 19 permits are issued to ‘not for profit’ organisations such as schools and charities and allow their staff to drive a minibus without category D or D1 licence entitlement and without Driver CPC training. The permit allows the organisation to charge for its services, but only to cover some or all of the running costs of the vehicle.
A statement was later issued by the Community Transport Association (CTA), on behalf of Swadlincote Community Transport, confirming that they are working with the DVSA and DfT to determine future implications:
“It is important to understand that these operators won these contracts in good faith working to rules that applied at that time and there has been no public statement from DVSA that their own practices have changed.
“We would therefore urge everyone, especially local authority commissioners, to not jump to conclusions about the validity of contracts currently held with community transport operators until the DVSA can clarify the position publicly.
“The story which should be highlighted and discussed here is the service users who have had the specialist support provided by their dedicated community transport drivers taken away from them.”
It is understood that no statement regarding the matter has been officially released by the DVSA.
Story via routeONE magazine.