Concerns raised as to whether ACT meets permit criteria leads to one renewal refusal
In what was seen as a test case, Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nick Jones has refused to renew a Section 19 (S19) permit for a vehicle of eight or fewer passenger seats held by Rhondda Cynon Taf-based Accessible Caring Transport (ACT). However, he has decided to renew four S19 permits and two Section 22 (S22) permits held by the charity for vehicles with nine-16 passenger seats.
For a number of years ACT had used permits issued under S19 and S22 of the Transport Act 1985. Renewal applications for these permits raised issues as to whether the organisation met the criteria for operating under such permits.
It was clear that so long as contracts were allocated for S19 permit holders using what were described as open tendering processes, serious questions might arise. If there was no genuine competition, why not simply provide for a different procurement process for S19 permit holders? Failure to change the existing procurement process could to lead to questioning of every contract granted to a S19 permit holder.
It should not be taken as an indication that most existing S19 and 22 permits would continue to be treated as valid. The TC emphasised that each case must be determined on its own merits and the circumstances of this particular case was not necessarily typical of permit holders.
In relation to permits for vehicles with eight or fewer passenger seats, the TC said that organisations seeking a new permit or the renewal of a permit for an eight-seater or fewer vehicle were advised by DfT to apply for a local authority private hire licence. However, if an organisation had a private hire licence it was difficult to see how it could then be exclusively non-commercial.
Renewing the other permits on the basis that ACT’s operations were non-commercial, the TC warned that if it did apply for a local authority private hire licence he was likely to review the issue of whether or not it was exclusively non- commercial.
A full report will be published in a forthcoming issue of routeone.