DVLA issues to be tackled by transport secretary

DVLA issues to be tackled by transport secretary

Imminent announcement likely to clarify historic registration repair requirements.

Industry experts unclear as to what restoration work can be carried out on a classic vehicle without jeopardising its Historic registration status could finally be on the cusp of long-awaited clarification from the government. An evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the DVLA began last year, and after several frustrating postponements, it is hoped that Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, will finally make an announcement in the next few weeks.

The Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA), one of Britain’s leading automotive trade organisations, has been central in highlighting concerns around the DVLA’s treatment of the historic and classic vehicles sector. Progress has been made — last month, an agreement was reached that the replacement of the bolt-on ‘picture frame’ chassis component on a Jaguar E-Type would no longer be considered to be a modification requiring the allocation of a DVLA VIN and Q registration. However, frustration is growing over both a lack of published rules for the industry to work to, and the mechanism to appeal decisions. Speaking at HCVA’s second Heritage Matters Insights Day on April 11, Greg Smith, Conservative MP for Buckingham and a member of the Transport Select Committee, outlined the ongoing issues when it came to retaining a classic’s historical status. “My inbox says a huge problem still persists, the evidence the Transport Select Committee receives bears testimony to the scale of the problem, and it needs to be fixed,” he explained. “It is an absurdity that an arm of the state is throwing so many metaphorical spanners in the works when it comes to restoring these glorious machines. “It has been source of abject frustration to see the DVLA force vehicles on to Q-plates for works that are commonsense — repairs that if they were completed on a modern car would not even cause a raised eyebrow, but on a classic are treated as crime of the century.

“I look forward to Mark Harper’s announcement, and I hope this is the first step in publishing and clarifying exactly what work can be done during restoration in the certainty of retaining historic status.” Guy Lachlan, Executive Director at the HCVA, explained how the organisation made its points to the DVLA regarding the boundaries restorers need to stay within, but that the response from the secretary of state on the matter has been delayed time and time again. “It was going to be April 18, that’s now been postponed to the beginning of May and we don’t have a date yet,” said Guy.

“We’re not quite sure what that announcement is going to be. We believe it’s going to be some form of consultation that will encompass many areas, not just the historic world, but as and when it happens, and as and when it gets announced, we will be ensuring that the voice of the historic and classic vehicle sector is represented in a proper, formal written response. “We’ve also launched a page on the HCVA website where anyone can register issues they ‘ve had with the DVLA, so we can build more of a complete picture of how this is affecting not just the industry, but the general public.”

Greg Smith was optimistic that the current issues could be resolved. “Notwithstanding the picture frame case, we’ve potentially gone one or two steps backwards, unless the announcement next month comes up with something magical. I think Mark [Harper] does get the importance of fixing it — we just need to see the proof. The pressure is mounting from the Transport Select Committee, and the more we can expose the failings of the DVLA, the greater the chance we’ve got of fixing it.”

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