First, I will address the investment situation relating to PSVAR.
Over the last 10 years, home-to-school providers have been squeezed because of council budgets. There is no money left to invest. Councils cannot afford price increases on the scale required by PSVAR and emission control zones.
Another valuable point is that when you have invested large amounts of income into vehicles and staff, local authorities (LAs) sometimes break the terms of contracts.
If the contract is for 12 months, you often cannot invest on those terms. I have experienced that myself. There are no reserve funds – you can borrow, but at your own peril.
There is a simple and easy approach LAs should take. They know the requirements of every contract. If there is no requirement for PSVAR, operators should be exempt. All LAs have operators on their procurement lists that can accommodate passengers with disabilities.
Regarding regulation – and committing criminal offences – the LAs have turned a blind eye to some sections of the industry that break the law every day. They choose where to regulate and where not to.
We need to come together, and that requires trust and representation.