Demand for police investigation into Cambs CTOs

Refusal by Cambridgeshire Police to investigate alleged offences by community transport organisations (CTOs) has served only to intensify the determination by a local campaign group to expose illegal practices that are underpinning unfair competition with legitimate taxi and PSV operators.

At the meeting last week, Dave Humphrey proposes petition

Their next move in a three-and-a-half-year crusade is to take a petition to the police in a convoy of member’s vehicles.

Established in response to the growing threat from CTOs (routeONE, Big Story, 24 April), the Cambridge Bus, Coach and Taxi Association (CBCTA) has compiled a report detailing “illegal financial and regulatory advantage being given to some CTOs, the effects of which have caused manipulation of Cambridgeshire County Council’s procurement of commercial transport contracts.”

The report was publicly handed over to Cambridgeshire County Council.

At a CBCTA meeting in March last Thursday (26 March), Vice Chairman Dave Humphrey told the 23 coach, bus and taxi operators present that the council has passed the “criminal aspect of the case to the police.”

However, according to Mr Humphrey, the police have decided to take no action.

He told the meeting that this decision is based on an earlier “decision of no crime” and an assertion that in their view “there is no further evidence.”

Baffled by this apparent rejection of CBCTA’s detailed submission of evidence, the CBCTA members accepted Mr Humphrey’s suggestion that they petition Cambridgeshire Police Chief Inspector Mike Hills.

And after further debate, they have elected to deliver the petition to the police headquarters in Huntingdon in a convoy of members’ vehicles at 1100hrs on 14 June.

CBCTA’s report contains several serious allegations, including that a number of councils in Cambridgeshire have subsidised the purchase of vehicles by CTOs with grants that were “hypothecated to support non-commercial activities,” despite their knowledge that the vehicles would be used on competitively-won tenders.

Money has “knowingly been diverted to cross-subsidise the fulfilment of councils’ commercial interests, contrary to DfT guidelines,” and has been secured via “submission of fraudulent applications for grants from County, District, Parish and Town Councils,” says the report.

In a nutshell, the report alleges that these vehicles are used by CTOs on work previously held by licenced operators in a process carried out deliberately to reduce tender prices.

That is in plain contravention of EU regulations, which state that “[CTO] revenues (including grants and contract income) can be legally used only to cover [the organisation’s] costs.”

  • Other operators are welcome to join the demonstration on 14 June with their vehicles; email cbctassociation@gmail.com. To sign the petition visit goo.gl/pQjTNi