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What about charities and D1 licences? - Blog Post

What about charities and D1 licences?

- 06-Nov-2017 -

Read the letter from a reader of Route One Magazine, asking about how changing the minibus driving licence laws would affect charities, and our reply. We hope you find it interesting and welcome any further debate or questions, on social media or direct to our team here at HQ.

We received a comment on the 'Campaign to change minibus driving licence laws' article featured in Route One Magazine, with one simple question - What about charities? Here's how we replied...

 

I am employed by a local charity, which relies heavily on volunteer drivers - many of whom only have a normal car licence. We have a number of minibuses ranging from 13 to 17 seats.

Castle Minibus, in launching this campaign [route one, news, 13 September], makes no mention of the detriment it will cause to our service users and those at other voluntary groups and charities, or indeed the financial impact on us that trying to enforce a change to the legislation will have.

The driving licence legislation that the Government introduced in 1999 was done so with the very intention of helping charities such as ours. The driving licence exemptions are also there to help schools where pupils may need trips to sporting fixtures or field trips to further their education.

Having read Castle Minibuses’ website, I see that it supplies minibuses which, with the exception of the 9-seat bus, appears not to be appropriate to drive on a Category B licence and D1 training.

Perhaps they have a vested commercial interest.

I might finally add that all of our volunteer drivers undertake MIDAS training. I believe this form of training was designed and set up specifically for volunteer drivers at charities and schools in mind.

Patrick Goodwin, Sunderland

Dear Patrick,

I wanted to thank you and respond to your letter as you raise some interesting points, and part of the goal of our Greater Than Eight campaign is to raise debate.

Firstly, the issue of a commercial interest. Castle Minibus do lease and hire minibuses and provide D1, MiDAS and now compliance training for the education sector. You’re also correct in that we don’t offer `light-weight` minibuses as we don’t think converted-panel vans driven by inexperienced B category licence holders is a safe option. Because we are a trusted advisor to schools, teachers, governors and bursars and speak to them on a regular basis, we need to be giving accurate advice on minibus licencing. When we researched the legalities, we found contradictory government and legal advice. Where some, like yourself, may consider teachers to be volunteers, legal advice obtained by several county councils is to the contrary. In 2002 the thenMinister for Schools, concurred with Hertfordshire County Council’s solicitor's view that teachers needed to hold category D1 entitlement on their licence and that they are not eligible for the exemptions that apply to the voluntary sector.

The government itself encourages schools to seek legal advice. The idea for The Greater than 8 campaign was to end confusion by simply removing all exceptions. You mention you are employed by a charity but there are volunteer drivers who are heavily relied upon. Unfortunately, there have been ‘charitable’ firms bidding and winning commercial contracts using B category or restricted D1 ‘volunteer’ licence holders enabling them to undercut commercial companies with drivers holding PCV and unrestricted D1 licences. While I am in no way suggesting your charity does this, this misuse of the section 19 and 22 permit has become an issue and is being reviewed, as I am sure you’re aware.

We do have a commercial interest in the school minibus sector, but what we are more interested in is making sure our clients are fully protected legally out on the road. As the current government guidance is contradicted by legal advice, the voluntary exemption is not only being exploited, but is adding to the confusion surrounding licences, which is the reason why we seek a straight-forward solution that all drivers of eight plus passenger vehicles hold the unrestricted D1 licence.

This will also bring us into line with how the rest of the 27 countries in Europe have operated minibuses for the last 20 years or so.

With the kindest of regards

Chris Maynard,

Managing Director of Castle Minibus.

To learn more about the Castle Minibus campaign for ending the confusion over legal requirements to drive a minibus, have a look at the petition:  http://bit.ly/greaterthan8petition

Route One Magazine article:

http://www.route-one.net/articles/Campaign_to_change_minibus_driving_licence_laws_kicks_of





 


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