Norman Lamb fights for district’s community transport services in parliament
- Credit: Parliamentlive.TV
The member of parliament for North Norfolk has been fighting the district's case in parliament today, attempting to get clarity on a regulation which could seriously harm community transport.
Norman Lamb today asked the government what steps it is taking to guarantee the future of local services such as North Norfolk Community Transport (NNCT).
The organisation is in danger after proposed changes to licensing regulations would force community transport providers to apply for PSV licenses, to continue operating local authority contracts.
Organisations such as NNCT use these contracts to support their overheads, which in turn supports their other services such as Dial-a-Ride.
Many services would risk going under in these circumstances due to financial pressure.
A spokesman for Mr Lamb's office said: 'The Minister responding to Mr Lamb's question today appeared to misunderstand the issue, accusing local authorities of acting 'prematurely' if they withdrew funding before final guidance is announced in the summer.'
Mr Lamb said: 'The government has shown today that it doesn't have a grasp on the consequences of its ill-conceived proposals. The new regulations leave important local services, such as NNCT in my constituency, at risk of becoming unviable.
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'I'm writing to the Department for Transport to make clear the impact these proposals are already having on community transport providers – perhaps then they will understand the reality of the situation.'
Community transports provides a vital service to many north Norfolk residents, who would otherwise be trapped in their homes without means of travelling the rural district.
Claire Abbs, chief executive at NNCT, said: 'Whilst the Government may feel there is little impact as yet from their proposals, we would argue otherwise. Already, before the outcome of the consultation is known, we face significant financial pressures from being unable to gain any new contracts or replace older ones, since the DfT's initial letter in July 2017. It is also a very unsettling time for staff, volunteers, and especially passengers, all of whom want clarity on what these proposals will mean in practice for the future of community transport.'