Second Meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Community Transport
by Suzanne Lau
In March, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Community Transport was set up as a forum for parliamentarians to demonstrate and celebrate the value of community transport in Parliament and for parliamentarians to learn about the experiences of community transport providers and their service users.
Last week, the APPG met for the second time at Portcullis House in Westminster with a session led by Chair of the APPG, Robert Courts MP and attended by a number of community transport providers and Members of Parliament.
We were excited to welcome a cross-section of eight community transport providers from across the UK to give evidence at the meeting and to demonstrate the different operating models and sizes of organisations in the sector. All members presented extremely well and were able to provide strong, comprehensive answers to MPs’ questions. A special thank you to Sue Leighton from SEDCAT, Stephen Elsden from Compaid, Jenny Bright and her colleague Dave Williams from Green Community Travel, Maggie Lawson from Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company, Ben Seamarks from Volunteer Cornwall, Kevin Carr from South Pennine Community Transport, Laura Burns from Llanwrtyd Community Transport, and Phil Sharman from Our Bus Bartons.
Important issues in community transport on areas surrounding funding, relationships with local authorities and volunteer recruitment were raised with MPs at the meeting. Of particular interest to the APPG was how the experiences and expertise of community transport can be plugged into important public policy issues such as loneliness and isolation, reducing costs in health and social care, and reducing carbon emissions. It was also an opportunity for MPs to better understand how community transport can relate to developments in transport technology and innovations, such as integrated ticketing and multimodal travel, as well as to speak about the Department for Transport’s proposed changes to driver licencing, and their potentially devastating effect on the community transport sector.
Despite a packed parliamentary schedule, we were pleased by the attendance at the meeting, with MPs including APPG Chair Robert Courts, Lilian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, former Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin, Chris Ruane, and representatives for Matt Rodda and Alex Chalk. All were engaged in positive and wide-ranging discussions with the community transport providers who came to share their stories. A number of other MPs sent their apologies and expressed interest in hearing about the proceedings and any further meetings. It was clear to see that community transport remains a priority for members across parliament.
A great discussion was had by all attendees, which will be detailed in a short report covering the findings and recommendations of the APPG. To keep up to date with this and any future APPG meetings, please follow @APPGCT on Twitter.
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.