The Senior Traffic Commissioner has reminded operator licence applicants and existing licence holders that they will be assessed against new financial standing levels from 1 January 2014, in line with the legislation.
The revised minimum financial standing levels for standard national and international licence holders and applicants have been announced by the Department for Transport.
Applications received after 1 December 2013 will be processed against the revised rates in anticipation of decisions on new licences and variations in the new year, when those revised financial levels are in place.
Standard national and international licence applicants will be required to demonstrate £7400 for the first vehicle and £4100 for each additional vehicle they request to be authorised. Existing operators making variation applications will be required to demonstrate financial standing for the existing and additional fleet authority against the new levels.
Any applicant or licence holder appearing at public inquiry before a traffic commissioner after 1 January 2014, where additional evidence of financial standing is requested, will be required to satisfy the new levels.
The rates for restricted licence holders and applicants remain the same as 2013; £3100 for the first vehicle and £1700 for each additional authorised vehicle.
The Senior Traffic Commissioner’s statutory guidance document on finance has been amended to reflect the new rates.
The guidance indicates that where a standard licence holder cannot demonstrate financial standing, regulation (EC) 1071/2009 allows but does not require the Traffic Commissioner to provide a period of time to rectify the situation. The operator may be given a limited time to make written representations before the Traffic Commissioner decides whether to allow time for rectification and for what period by way of a notice served under the legislation.
The financial limits set by EU Regulation 1071/2009 are 9000 euros for the first vehicle and 5000 euros for each subsequent vehicle. For member states not participating in monetary union, the regulation requires the equivalent in their currencies to be revised every year, using the euro exchange rate published in the Official Journal of the European Union on the first working day of October in the previous year. The previous rates required access to £7200 and £4000 respectively.
Notes to editors
The Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain is Mrs Beverley Bell. There are 7 traffic commissioners in total, covering Scotland, Wales and 6 regions in England. Details of each traffic commissioner can be found on GOV.UK.
Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) operators and operators of public service vehicles (PSVs) and local bus routes must be licensed. The traffic commissioners’ role in this licensing process is essential to deliver safer roads, fair competition in road haulage and passenger transport, reliable and convenient public transport, and to help preserve the environment.
All traffic commissioners are statutorily independent licensing authorities responsible for bus, coach and goods vehicle operators and for local bus service registrations. They can also take action against the vocational entitlement of bus, coach and lorry drivers who commit road and certain other offences.
Traffic commissioners have the power to revoke, suspend or curtail an operator’s licence to operate commercial vehicles and to impose a condition limiting the number of vehicles authorised on licences held by bus and coach operators, if they are satisfied that the operator is failing to comply with its licence obligations such as failing to maintain vehicles in a fit and serviceable condition or failing to observe the drivers’ hours’ rules and tachograph regulations.
Action can also be taken against public service vehicle operators who fail to operate local bus services properly or in contravention of the registered particulars. Traffic commissioners have the power to cancel or restrict local bus services, or to impose a fine if services have not been operated, or operated improperly, to a significant extent.
Traffic commissioners rely mainly on evidence from VOSA but also from the police, local authorities, and the public to decide whether an operator is fit to hold a licence, or of good repute.
Public inquiries are judicial in nature and are called where concerns have been raised about the financial standing, professional competence or good repute of operator licence holders and where there appears to be a breach of any condition previously applied to the licence. Traffic commissioners can also consider environmental concerns expressed about the location of (or operations from) the applicant’s operating base.
Where concerns are raised about a lorry, bus or coach driver’s behaviour or actions – or evidence is submitted about convictions or other serious misdemeanours – commissioners will consider whether to take action against the driver. Commissioners have the power to revoke and suspend a driver’s entitlement and are also tasked with considering all applications for HGV and PSV vocational driving licence entitlements. Drivers can be called before a commissioner to consider evidence relating to their driving standards and previous conduct.