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Transport Benevolent Fund - 2019
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June 05 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

No clarity on permit use anywhere in sight yet

The Bus and Coach Association’s Judicial Review is still not concluded yet

Once again, the issue surrounding the operation of competitively-tendered contracts by holders of Section 19 and Section 22 permits has raised its head, this time in the House of Lords.

The Department for Transport has come in for criticism for proceeding with changes that will contribute to compliance with EC Regulation 1071/2006.

But the process hangs on a Judicial Review (JR) that will settle the definition of “exclusively non-commercial”.

One side argues that the term is interchangeable with not-for-profit; the other disagrees, and says that if money changes hands, the arrangement is commercial regardless of whether profit it made.

Where the permit-holding sector may not have helped itself is by insisting that some of the contracts that it undertakes generate no profit. If they do not, there is no point running them.

But the wider issue is how the situation has been allowed to get to where it is now. It remains a mess, and a huge one. Too many heads have been buried in the sand.

It is true that one can hardly criticise permit-holders for taking on contracts when they did so with the implicit consent of ministers. In 2017, their world was turned upside down because matters had been left to get out of hand.

Noises suggest that the DfT expects the JR to favour the Bus and Coach Association’s view of non-commercial. Many permit-holding organisations may need to obtain O-Licences if they are to continue if that happens.

And then, there is one question that is more salient than all of the others. Will the DfT provide the additional funding necessary to allow services as they are provided today to continue?

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