Mel Stride

    CENTRAL DEVON MP Mel Stride met with Okehampton District Community Transport Group (ODCTG) co-ordinator Sue Wonnacott at their office in Okehampton Business Park. The meeting follows a consultation period by the Government on how it can continue to support Community Transport (CT) Groups while also adhering to EU competition laws. For the last 30 years CT Groups have not had to hold a Public Service Vehicle operator’s licence or require their volunteer drivers to have certain qualifications. But a commercial bus company recently challenged this in the European Court arguing that where such groups potentially compete with commercial operators, these exemptions would contradict EU competition law.

    Mr Stride, who has spent time with CT groups in Okehampton and Crediton and has lobbied on their behalf for funding, said:

    “The Government is totally committed to supporting CT Groups which provide a hugely valuable service to a wide range of people including some of the most vulnerable members of our society. In recent years the Government has provided groups with more than 400 new minibuses, including one for Okehampton, and provided funds to groups through the Community Transport Association and Bus Service Operators Grant scheme. CT Groups are essential to the communities they serve and the Government launched this review after the EU ruling to make sure they continue to get the support they need.”

    Sue Wonnacott added:

    “It is good to have Mel’s reassurance about Government support but we are concerned about the potential compliance costs if there is a change in UK guidelines as a result of the European Court ruling. It would be very difficult for the residents who rely on us if we had to increase our charges and this is something we are desperate to avoid.”

    For more information about the Okehampton District Community Transport Group visit

    Photo: Rt Hon Mel Stride MP meeting with Okehampton Community Transport co-ordinator Sue Wonnacott.