Welcome to the Barnet Community Transport website
28th June 2019
Barnet Community Transport (Barnet CT) is a registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee and has been providing community transport services since 2004.
This is an update on the challenges faced at Barnet Community Transport (BCT), and how services have had to be re-evaluated by the Trustees of the Charity to help mitigate risks.
It is a matter of public record that in July 2017 that a letter from Stephen Fidler OBE at the Department for Transport (DfT), reinterpreted the guidelines for Section 19 Permits (S19), to meet a narrower interpretation of EU Reg 1071/2009 Article 1.4 (b) which sought to categorise not for profit charities like BCT, as requiring a commercial Operator’s Licence.
Therefore, much effort was expended in trying to persuade the DfT that the new interpretation, which ignored the definition that had worked well in custom and practice since 1985, was likely to cause severe difficulties for the CT sector, and BCT in particular, because the costs associated with obtaining an Operators Licence are prohibitive.
(NB. to finance the Fidelity Bonds and staffing measures entailed in obtaining an Operator’s licence for all the BCT vehicles could cost up to £100,000 in the first year alone).
The DfT held a Consultation last year, and were due to issue their decision in July 2018, but this was delayed several times, through the Autumn, Winter and into the Spring of 2019.
As each deadline for publication came and went, without any decision being taken, BCT’s finances became weaker, so the Trustees met more regularly in an effort to mitigate the impact and risks, and evaluate whether BCT could continue, in the hope that the revised and (narrowest), interpretation of the guidelines would be deemed inapplicable or overturned.
In the opinion of the Trustees, as a ‘not for profit’ charity, BCT never has been, is not now, and never will be remotely comparable to a commercial organisation which undertakes work with a primary purpose of generating sufficient profits for private shareholders.
The DfT issued clarifications during November 2017, one of which appeared to call in to question the compliance of work carried out in support of another CT using S19 Permits, which then ceased resulting in the loss of 35% of our income, for the 18-19 financial year.
A Judicial Review was initiated last year, however the DfT did not wait for the results, so on 15th March 2019, it was announced that various sections of the EU Reg 1071/2009 had been adopted into UK law by Statutory Instrument, thereby avoiding a debate or vote in Parliament.
However, it was hoped that most CT’s would be allowed to use the short distance (10 mile) exemption listed in Article 1.5(b) of the regulation, to continue S19 working as case by case exemptions might be possible, in some areas.
This is an extract from the DfT Consultation Report; Short distance exemption 1.23
The consultation sought views on how this exemption might be implemented and how it would work in practice. The wording of the Regulation makes clear that only those operating exclusively in the UK can satisfy the exemption.
No other Member State has given effect to this exemption and so there is no precedent to follow. The consultation made clear that there was no flexibility for the Government to introduce additional exemptions that better reflect the uniqueness of the community transport sector in the UK, which stands apart from other European Countries.
If the UK, is indeed the only country needing to use this exemption, ie. no one else in Europe is affected, then why is this level of interference considered acceptable, and what purpose does it serve for this rule to be dictated by the EU to the detriment solely of UK residents?
In the interim, discussions were pursued with other organisations who might have been genuinely interested in facilitating our work by taking on the assets and liabilities of BCT.
However none of these provided a robust, viable and sustainable framework to maintain our ethos and vision, or sufficiently postpone the point where assets might not cover liabilities.
In March the DfT issued this worked example (Example 5) which shows evidence of an organisation NOT meeting the criteria for the ‘main occupation’ exemption:
- Example 5: Applicant E is a company limited by guarantee and registered as a charity that has been set up with a view to alleviating social isolation for the elderly in their community. The evidence they provide shows that the majority of their time and resources are consumed by transport activities using vehicles operated under permits. This is also what generates the majority of their income.
As BCT has a primary purpose of providing transport, there is clearly no viable exemption available to support work using Section 19 Permits.
Therefore after a great deal of consideration, soul searching and much deliberation, it is with profound regret that the Trustees confirm the closure of BCT as of 30th June 2019
It is regrettable that the “not for profit” ethos and qualities of this charity means BCT is no longer able to operate, due to this combination of circumstances entirely beyond its control.
The Trustees and all involved in managing and providing this service would like to offer their warmest thanks and appreciation for the cooperation that has worked so well over the years in overcoming many challenges, and commend the efforts of volunteers and staff as being of the highest order, devoted to providing the best possible experience for our passengers.
There are still a number of options available for ex BCT Members requiring transport, including: Dial-a-Ride, Tel 0343 222 7777, TaxiCard 020 7934 9791, Barbara Bus Fund 0208 416 0733 and some local CT’s, Brent 0203 114 7022, Harrow 020 8427 6619, and Hertsmere 0208 207 5055, who may be able to assist your journeys.
The Trustees and all the Team at BCT would like to thank you for your support throughout many years.
We apologise in advance for any difficulties that may be encountered from July.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve our community as CEO of this charity.
Wishing you all good health, happiness and the gift of bringing a better day to others.
Chief Executive Officer
(For and on behalf of the Trustees of Barnet Community Transport)
This e-mail address will be monitored infrequently during the closedown period