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Anger over hike in driving licence fees

PUBLISHED: 09:40 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:17 11 May 2010

NORFOLK drivers kept in the dark about the need to regularly renew photograph licences are now facing inflation-busting rises in the replacement fee.

The cost of compulsorily updating the plastic photocards every 10 years has soared by 14pc from £17.

NORFOLK drivers kept in the dark about the need to regularly renew photograph licences are now facing inflation-busting rises in the replacement fee.

The cost of compulsorily updating the plastic photocards every 10 years has soared by 14pc from £17.50 to £20 at a time when hundreds of drivers in the county unknowingly have to renew them for the first time or risk a £1,000 fine.

Motorists needing to replace a licence that is lost or update it after the removal of endorsements also face the same 14pc rise.

The rises were announced by the government's Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and its Driving Standards Agency (DSA), which said the hikes were necessary to cover costs - yet inflation has fallen to 0pc for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The AA, which has slated the lack of publicity about the compulsory 10-year photocard renewal, also criticised the DVLA's 14pc increase in the cost.

Paul Watters, the AA's head of roads and transport policy, said the rises came “at a bad time”.

He said it was yet another example of drivers having to pay more for something that could be covered by general motoring taxation. “We as drivers are not cushioned from the increasing costs of staying lawful, although we pay £46bn a year in motoring taxes. The DVLA has collected over £1bn from sales of personalised number plates but the Treasury takes most of that. If you add up all the costs of complying with the law - such as MoTs, licences and road tax - they are quite a burden.”

AA president Edmund King previously said: “It is not generally known that photocard licences expire; there appears to be a lack of information that people will have to renew these licences.

“People think they have already paid them for once and that is it. It will come as a surprise to motorists and a shock that they have to pay extra.”

The AA called on the government to use the annual £450m from traffic enforcement fines to offset the renewal charge.

Before photocard licences were introduced, old-style paper licences were valid until the age of 70 and many motorists still believe this to be the case with the new ones.

The DVLA said the date of expiry was carried on the new-style licences even though the AA says this is not clear. And the agency was unable to say whether motorists had been told the licences would expire when they were first issued.

It said it was issuing postal reminders two months before the deadline to drivers whose photograph was due to expire. But a spokesman admitted this was the limit of the DVLA's publicity.

A DVLA spokesman said: “Previous experience has shown that widescale publicity is less effective and can generate inquiries and concerns from those not affected.

“Instead DVLA focused on targeted publicity to ensure that we got the message to the right person at the right time.”


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