Welsh Government write to UK Department for Transport over proposed changes to section 19/22 permits

 

Llyr

Ken Skates AM, the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, has recently written to Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani MP to voice the concerns of the Welsh Government in regards to the UK Department for Transport’s proposed changes to section 19 and 22 permits. You can read the full letter here.

While permits and licensing are not devolved issues, the Welsh Government is in charge of how community transport operates in Wales, and is therefore concerned about the impact that the proposed changes will have on hundreds of organisations across the country. The Cabinet Secretary has also announced that he will lead on a new integrated transport strategy over the summer and produce a White Paper to consult on bus services in Wales, and it is his intention that community transport will be part of delivering that strategy.

Our members’ excellent contributions to a recent debate on community transport in the National Assembly for Wales demonstrated that the work of community transport providers plays a significant role in many of the issues of policy that are devolved to the Welsh Government. This includes providing accessible transport to support social care, helping people access health appointments, alleviating social isolation and loneliness, as well as providing accessible transport for schools and community groups across Wales.

The Cabinet Secretary correctly noted in his letter that, in the Assembly debate:

“Members across all the political parties in the National Assembly for Wales noted with concern the current consultation on community transport permits and the potential impact that these proposed changes could have on services in Wales.”

The Welsh Government’s letter is encouraging in that it provides a detailed analysis and shows a strong understanding of the impact the proposed changes could have in Wales, and also responds constructively in looking for ways to mitigate that impact, or to change course in terms of the interpretation of the EU regulations coming into force.

In the letter, the Cabinet Secretary sets out his reservations on the following:

  • The Department for Transport proposed definition of ‘commercial activity’, whereby community transport operators can rely on exemption from commercial activity due to transport being an ‘incidental service’, noting that “few community transport providers in Wales provide transport as an ancillary service.”
  • On the exemption to ‘commercial activity’ through ‘the service provided being free of charge’, the Cabinet Secretary notes this is unrealistic as “no such service can be provided entirely free of charge.”
  • On the exemption that ‘any charge for service is substantially less than cost’, the Cabinet Secretary notes that “providing a service at less than cost is not sustainable.”
  • On the exemption that ‘services may be provided if there is no competition from commercial operators, the Cabinet Secretary notes that “in effect, public service vehicle operators are provided a veto to prevent community transport operators bidding” meaning that commercial operators “are able to effectively dictate prices to the contracting local authorities having removed the only source of local competition”.
  • The Cabinet Secretary responded constructively to the exemption that operators be discounted from commercial activities, based on short distances, but noted that in many rural areas in Wales (such as Powys), a radius of between 15 to 20 miles would still not allow for many services to be provided, and suggested that in such areas a radius of 30 miles be applied.

We welcome the Welsh Government’s contribution to this debate, and hope for continued dialogue to support the community transport sector which must play a vital part in achieving the Welsh Government’s aims on integrated transport and a connected Wales. We look forward to working together to both address the problems of the DfT’s proposed changes in the regulatory regime, but also in positively building a community transport strategy for the future wellbeing of generations in Wales.

The role of Assembly Members across all parties in the National Assembly in ensuring constructive and well informed dialogue to press this issue forward is also to be acknowledged, as the Cabinet Secretary does in his letter.

As the Cabinet Secretary said during the Assembly debate last month: “Rather than get dragged down into a pointless political point-scoring exercise, I wish to instead pay tribute to the community transport sector for keeping this item right at the top of the transport agenda.”

We can reassure the Cabinet Secretary that we, with our members, will continue to work to keep community transport at the top of the agenda, and will make sure the Welsh Government puts it at the centre of transport policy and innovation in Wales.

If you want to find out more about this issue, including ways to get involved and contact your local representatives you can take a look at our blog here.


 

Mae Ken Skates AC, Ysgrifennydd Cabinet Llywodraeth Cymru dros yr Economi a’r Seilwaith, wedi ysgrifennu at y Gweinidog Trafnidiaeth Nusrat Ghani AS yn ddiweddar i leisio pryderon Llywodraeth Cymru ynghylch newidiadau arfaethedig Adran Drafnidiaeth y DU i drwyddedau adran 19 a 22. Gallwch ddarllen y llythyr llawn yma.

Er nad yw trwyddedau a thrwyddedu yn faterion sydd wedi’u datganoli, Llywodraeth Cymru sy’n gyfrifol am sut mae cludiant cymunedol yn gweithredu yng Nghymru, ac felly mae’n poeni am yr effaith y bydd y newidiadau arfaethedig yn ei chael ar gannoedd o gyrff ledled y wlad. Mae’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet wedi cyhoeddi hefyd y bydd yn arwain ar strategaeth cludiant integredig dros yr haf ac y bydd yn cynhyrchu Papur Gwyn i ymgynghori ar wasanaethau bysiau yng Nghymru. Ei fwriad yw i gludiant cymunedol fod yn rhan o gyflawni’r strategaeth honno.

Dangosodd cyfraniadau ardderchog ein haelodau i drafodaeth ddiweddar ar gludiant cymunedol yng Nghynlluniad Cenedlaethol Cymru fod gwaith darparwyr cludiant cymunedol yn chwarae rhan arwyddocaol yn llawer o’r materion polisi sydd wedi’u datganoli i Lywodraeth Cymru. Mae hyn yn cynnwys darparu cludiant hygyrch i gefnogi gofal cymdeithasol, helpu pobl i gael mynediad at apwyntiadau iechyd, lliniaru arwahanrwydd cymdeithasol ac unigedd, yn ogystal â darparu cludiant hygyrch i ysgolion a grwpiau cymunedol ledled Cymru.

Nododd yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet yn gywir yn ei llythyr, yn y drafodaeth yn y Cynulliad, fod:

“Aelodau ar draws pob plaid wleidyddol yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru wedi nodi gyda phryder yr ymgynghoriad cyfredol ar drwyddedau cludiant cymunedol a’r effaith bosibl y gallai’r newidiadau arfaethedig hyn ei chael ar wasanaethau yng Nghymru.”

Mae llythyr Llywodraeth Cymru yn galonogol yn yr ystyr ei fod yn rhoi dadansoddiad manwl o’r effaith y gallai’r newidiadau arfaethedig ei chael yng Nghymru ac yn dangos dealltwriaeth gref ohoni. Hefyd, mae’n ymateb yn adeiladol wrth edrych am ffyrdd o liniaru’r effaith, neu o newid llwybr o ran y dehongliad o reoliadau’r UE sy’n dod i rym.

Yn ei lythyr, mae’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet yn nodi ei bryderon ynghylch y canlynol:

  • Diffiniad arfaethedig yr Adran Drafnidiaeth o ‘gweithgarwch masnachol’, lle gall gweithredwyr cludiant cymunedol ddibynnu ar gael eu heithrio o weithgarwch masnachol oherwydd bod cludiant yn ‘wasanaeth achlysurol’, ac yn nodi mai “ychydig iawn o ddarparwyr cludiant cymunedol yng Nghymru sy’n darparu cludiant fel gwasanaeth ategol.”
  • Ynghylch yr eithriad i ‘weithgarwch masnachol’ os yw’r ‘gwasanaeth a roddir yn ddi-dâl’, noda’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet fod hyn yn realistig gan “na all unrhyw wasanaeth o’r fath gael ei roi yn hollol rad ac am ddim.’
  • Ynghylch yr eithriad bod ‘unrhyw dâl am wasanaeth yn sylweddol is na’r gost’, noda’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet fod “darparu gwasanaeth am lai na’i gost yn anghynaladwy.”
  • Ynghylch yr eithriad bod ‘modd darparu gwasanaethau os nad oes cystadleuaeth oddi wrth weithredwyr masnachol’, noda’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet “i bob pwrpas, mae gweithredwyr cerbydau gwasanaeth cyhoeddus yn cael feto i atal gweithredwyr cludiant cymunedol rhag cynnig” ystyr hyn yw bod darparwyr masnachol “yn gallu dweud wrth yr awdurdodau lleol beth ddylai’r prisiau fod ar ôl cael gwared ar yr unig ffynhonnell o gystadleuaeth leol”.
  • Ymatebodd yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet yn gadarnhaol i’r eithriad y dylai gweithredwyr gael eu diystyru o wasanaethau masnachol, yn seiliedig ar bellteroedd byr, ond nododd, mewn llawer o ardaloedd gwledig yng Nghymru (fel Powys), na fyddai radiws o rhwng 15 a 20 milltir yn dal i alluogi llawer o wasanaethau i gael eu darparu, ac awgrymodd y dylid defnyddio radiws o 30 milltir mewn ardaloedd o’r fath.

Rydym yn croesawu cyfraniad Llywodraeth Cymru i’r drafodaeth hon, ac yn gobeithio parhau â’r ddeialog i gefnogi’r sector cludiant cymunedol, y mae’n rhaid iddo chwarae rhan hanfodol wrth gyflawni nodau Llywodraeth Cymru ar gludiant integredig a Chymru gysylltiedig. Edrychwn ymlaen at gydweithio i fynd i’r afael â phroblemau newidiadau arfaethedig yr Adran Drafnidiaeth i’r drefn reoleiddio, ond hefyd wrth adeiladu’n gadarnhaol strategaeth gludiant cymunedol er lles cenedlaethau Cymru i’r dyfodol.

Rhaid cydnabod rôl Aelodau’r Cynulliad ar draws pob plaid yn y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol wrth sicrhau deialog adeiladol a gwybodus er mwyn gwthio’r mater hwn yn ei flaen, fel y gwna’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet yn ei lythyr.

Fel y dywedodd yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet yn ystod y ddadl yn y Cynulliad y mis diwethaf: “Yn hytrach na chael fy llusgo i lawr i ymarfer dibwys sgorio pwyntio gwleidyddol, hoffwn, yn hytrach, dalu teyrnged i’r sector cludiant cyhoeddus am gadw’r eitem hon reit ar frig yr agenda drafnidiaeth.”

Gallwn sicrhau’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet y byddwn ni, gyda’n haelodau, yn parhau i weithio i gadw cludiant cymunedol ar frig yr agenda, a byddwn yn gwneud yn siŵr y bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei roi wrth graidd polisi trafnidiaeth ac arloesedd yng Nghymru.

Pe hoffech chi gael gwybod rhagor am y mater hwn, gan gynnwys ffyrdd o gymryd rhan ac o gysylltu â’ch cynrychiolwyr lleol, gallwch weld ein blog yma.

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