Supporting Community Transport in Parliament: the latest meeting of the APPG on Community Transport
by Suzanne Lau
Last Tuesday, CTA was pleased to support the third meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Community Transport for which we act as the secretariat, supporting and assisting the group with administration and event organisation throughout the year. The latest meeting covered the APPG’s Annual General Meeting, a briefing for Parliamentarians on the most recent developments within the community transport sector, as well as an introduction to an exciting new project on commissioning.
Despite urgent votes in the Commons, the meeting had a good turn-out and the MPs present re-elected Robert Courts MP as Chair of the group, Lilian Greenwood MP as Officer, Maggie Throup MP as Secretary and Bill Grant MP as Treasurer. CTA are delighted that all the office-bearers of the committee put their names forward again and were duly elected.
One of the main items on the agenda was an update on the difficulty and uncertainty faced by the community transport sector since the Department for Transport first announced their proposed changes to the use of section 19 and section 22 permits in July 2017. Despite statements from the Department for local authorities not to change their approach to permits before a conclusion on the proposed reforms, some community transport operators have seen contracts withdrawn and services affected. As such, MPs decided to use the APPG meeting as an opportunity to discuss and update colleagues on how CTA members, many of whom operate in their constituencies, are being affected on the ground. Tim Cairns, CTA’s Director for Northern Ireland, provided a refresher on the legislative background to the permits, an update on the Department’s response to the main occupation exemption and the short distance exemption, as well as an outline of the information we are still waiting on from the Department so that we can better understand how the sector is to move forward.
Following from that, Bill Freeman, CTA’s Chief Executive, was invited by the Chair to introduce our new research project on commissioning. The APPG have agreed to support the project and to host evidence gathering sessions in Parliament. This project will set out how placing social value at the heart of the commissioning process can achieve better outcomes for passengers, and use examples of commissioning on a local level from other sectors to inform our research. It will also be the basis for one of our panel discussions at CT ’19, CTA’s two day event for the community transport sector in November. You can find out more about CT ’19 here.
The meeting concluded with a valuable discussion by MPs present on how better integration and sharing of resources can improve efficiency with transport planning. It was agreed that CTA would take the lead and help the committee produce guidance for MPs to support their constituents with transport related issues, and that CTA would assist the committee to hold an evidence gathering session for the research project after the parliamentary recess.
Overall, it was a very productive meeting and we would like to extend special thanks to those MPs who attended in support of the sector. To access the minutes for the meeting head to ctauk.org/appg-on-community-transport/. If you would like your Member of Parliament to get involved with the APPG, make sure you get in touch with them and tell them about how important community transport is for you and your community. You can find your local MP here.
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