Moving DVA Services

dvlacon2013With less than a week in his new “job” the new Minister for the Department of the Environment (DOE) Mark Durkin is continuing his predecessor, Alex Atwood’s defence to keep the delivery of vehicle and registration services here in Northern Ireland.

The Department for Transport (DfT) in London has announced a consultation which will look at centralising the delivery of vehicle and registration services at the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea, the consultation runs  until 11 September 2013.

Responding to the announcement, which could result in the loss of some 300 jobs in Northern Ireland, (DVLA are closing 39 local offices in GB), Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has expressed his opposition and concern.

Minister Durkan said: “I intend to vigorously continue my predecessor’s opposition to the proposed centralisation of vehicle licensing services and the associated devastating job losses this would entail.

“I contest the assertion by Roads Minister, Stephen Hammond, that new services for motorists in Northern Ireland require all vehicle licensing work to be centralised in Swansea. This is not the case.

“It is very important that this opportunity to comment on DVLA’s proposals is not lost and I urge people to take time to read the proposal and respond to help secure local DVA jobs into the future.”

The Minister continued: “It has taken a long, hard struggle just to get the DfT and the DVLA to recognise the need to carry out a public consultation about these radical plans. I am pleased that they have eventually agreed to this but I am less than pleased that they have chosen to do so in the middle of the holiday season and for only the shortest possible period of eight weeks. These inadequacies in the consultation process were pointed out to the Minister in the Department for Transport, but to no avail.

The DVLA in GB has said, “There is a long-standing disparity in the level of vehicle registration and licensing services available to motorists in Northern Ireland compared with the rest of the UK, and the consultation proposes to change this.

More services would be available at Post Offices and there would be a wider range of electronic services available. The proposals are designed to deliver clear benefits to businesses and the motor trade and provide a range of consistent services and processes throughout the UK. Any changes to services arising from the consultation would be introduced next year.”

The DOE  says, “If adopted, the proposal could mean that eight DVA offices (Northern Ireland – DVA centre in Coleraine – local offices in Coleraine, Armagh, Belfast, Ballymena, Downpatrick, Enniskillen, Londonderry and Omagh) will cease to provide vehicle registration and licensing services, but DVA will continue to be responsible for the delivery of all driver licensing and vehicle testing services.”

Basically driver licensing means the actual delivery of tests (practical and theory) and vehicle testing services (MoT). Did you know that our motorcycle CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) has a minimum of four hours on road training while the CBT in GB only has two hours, but GB refuses to recognise and accept a Northern Ireland CBT certificate?

If, as the DVLA (GB) says in the consultation, that with the moving from predominantly traditional paper based operations to the delivery of secure online and telephone services to improve customers‟ experiences, means choosing between a system that allows almost 8,000 people relicence their vehicles on Christmas Day last year and keeping 300 jobs here in Northern Ireland, then we stand with the Minister Mark Durkin.

Previously Mishandled Renewals

We are aware that the DVLA has previously mishandled renewals and other documentation e.g. removing motorcycling licence categories from licences, giving riders no possiblility of  recompense to get their licence back other than resitting a full test, even with evidence that a rider had held a licence for many decades.

We are sure that our own DVA have made mistakes, however they are “our” DVA – sorting out local problems locally, warts and all!

The DVLA says that:

  • NI motorists cannot currently access the facility to license a vehicle or make an off road notification online or by automated telephone service. Although a manual telephone service exists, it has limited capacity.
  • NI motorists can only carry out a vastly reduced range of licensing transactions at NI Post Office branches compared with those in GB, and for those wishing to do so, there is no facility to “retain” a vehicle registration number for future assignment to another vehicle.
  • Currently, NI motorists can only licence their vehicle at the majority of Post Offices if they have the reminder form that is sent when the licence is due to expire.
  • Only 19 Post Offices in NI currently offer the facility to license a vehicle without this reminder form.
  • Other services, including making an off road notification, licensing a vehicle when there has been a change in the vehicle’s registration details and requesting a duplicate vehicle registration document, can only be carried out at one of the DVA’s local offices or by making a postal application to the DVA’s centre in Coleraine.
  • First vehicle registration applications for dealers who are not currently using the Automated First Registration and Licensing system can currently only be dealt with at a DVA local office or by post to the DVA’s centre in Coleraine.

If these are the only issues then surely it is not beyond the realms of achievability for the DVA here to modernise its systems to bring them in line with GB.?

Finally the last words from Mark Durkin, “This consultation provides the opportunity for everyone affected by DVLA’s proposal to have their say.

I have no doubt that people will recognise the potential impact on the local economy, especially in the North West including Coleraine, if the vehicle licensing work is all taken to Swansea and over 300 jobs are lost.

This would also be ill reward for the dedicated and high quality work provided by the staff in DVA, many of whom could see their lives turned upside down by the transfer of this work to Wales.

It is also runs contrary to the recent economic pact.”

Leave comments on the Right To Ride Consultation page – Click Here

Information

New Environment Minister concerned about possible DVA job losses – 17 July 2013 – Click Here

Consultation – Future of vehicle registration and licensing services in Northern Ireland 17 July 2013 – Click Here

DVLA GB

DVLA Head of Communications talks only positively on what the advantages are…………….

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