Beverley Community Lift, the local charity that provides transport services for elderly and disabled people, was dealt a severe blow recently when its Chief Executive, Jan Stainforth, received a letter from the Department for Transport, setting out its proposals to impose restrictions that could have a seriously damaging impact on the Charity’s core services, possibly even leading to Beverley Community Lift being forced to close down.
East Rising Ward Councillor, Denis Healy, whose St Mary’s ward includes Beverley Community Lift, explained the problem in more detail following a meeting with Jan Stainforth.
“In the past, Community Transport operators like Beverley Community Lift, who rely on volunteers to keep them on the road, have been able to operate without their drivers needing PSV (Public Service Vehicle) licences because they are engaged in road passenger transport services exclusively for “non commercial” purposes. However, because a commercial operator (not in our area) alleged that their local community transport provider ran contracts with the local authority, for which they received payment, the Department for Transport are now proposing that operators, like Beverley Community Lift, who have contracts with ERYC , can no longer be regarded as “non commercial,” and must, therefore, convert to a full PSV operation in order to continue providing the service. This despite the fact that most of their staff are volunteers.
“The implications for Beverley Community Lift of converting to a full PSV operation are financially prohibitive. Each of their volunteer drivers would need to train for and pass a Certificate of Professional Competence which would cost thousands of pounds for each driver. They would also need to provide tacographs and a depot and regulated maintenance operation for their buses, which they currently keep on the Hayride pub car park.
“The Department for Transport are currently consulting on their proposed change, but if it goes ahead, the losers will be the most vulnerable people in Beverley, the elderly and the infirm, for whom Beverley Community Lift is a lifeline.
“I am appealing to policy makers to intervene on this, and the ERYC is fully supportive of Community Transport providers in the East Riding. At a full Council meeting last week, the Council passed a unanimous motion in which they acknowledged the excellent work being undertaken by Community Transport Groups in the East Riding, and resolved to write to all local MPs and the Minister for Transport, urging a full scale review of the regulation and sustainability of the community transport sector.
I would also urge members of the public who are concerned about this to do the same.”
Jan Stainforth, Chief Executive of Beverley Community Lift said:
“I’m really concerned about the implications of the Department for Transport’s proposal. In the future, we may no longer be able to provide transport services for elderly and disabled people because of all the extra costs we would face.
“We currently reduce social isolation by running outings, and we take people from their door to the supermarket to help them stay independent for as long as they can.
We help local community groups with transport such as Arthritis Care and Beverley Stroke Group as well as getting people to medical appointments. We are often the only means for people to get out and about, and our passengers tell us they wouldn’t know what to do without us.
The door isn’t yet closed, as the Department for Transport are still consulting, and if as many people as possible could write to our local MP and the transport minister about this, it could make a difference. I also want to thank the East Riding council and local ward councillors for their support.”