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DVLA Local Office Closures – Right or Wrong?

DVLA Swansea closed our local office, Stockton-on-Tees, on Friday, 25th of October.

We at National Numbers will miss this face-to-face resource very much. We have been in business for more than 30 years and during all this time have relied on their corporation and friendly support carrying out cherished transfers quickly and efficiently.

We remember the days when inspections on Northern Ireland number plates were compulsory. We would duly turn up in the car park with a van-load of mopeds all registered with Northern Ireland marks, which the long-suffering staff would painstakingly check against the logbooks, clambering from one to the other as they did so (no health and safety back and then, luckily).

Our cherished transfer applications were submitted to the local office and completions returned within seven working days. If anything was amiss, are friendly phone call from local DVLA staff would alert us so we could quickly amend the error. Similarly, if an error was detected in returning paperwork, then a short drive to the local office would see you this corrected for the benefit of our customers.

Here was a Government service that worked well for many years for dealers on the public alike. About 18 months ago, it was suggested that National Numbers send their cherished transfer applications, DVLA certificates of entitlement and retention assignments direct to the Central Processing Unit at DVLA, Swansea. This method operated well for a while until it became apparent that the system was under strain with new staff being trainer "on the hoof" without proper supervision. Errors and long delays began occurring with our clients’ documentation being sent back direct totally against our instructions – often our buyer’s paperwork would go to our sellers thus breaching data protection regulations.

With our Administration staff at their wits end, our local DVLA office helped pull us through. From June, the local offices had to redirect all transfers and assignments received by post to DVLA, Swansea. However, if we presented our assignments in person, local office staff continues to process these over-the counter. This enabled us to continue to offer a fast turnaround times to our customers.

On Friday, October 20, 2013 this service came to an end.

This wasn't the only valued service that ceased. Over all the years, we have seen worried and perplexed members of the public receive patient and sympathetic assistance with complicated queries. Many of these would be difficult or impossible to sort out online or on the phone. In fact, National Numbers has seen an increase in calls from the public requesting motoring information.

We now have to submit all transactions direct to DVLA, Swansea. The few remaining local officers will be all close by the end of December. In spite of some valiant efforts on behalf of certain personnel of Swansea, timescales for completions are now bound to lengthen.

Obviously, we can't speak for franchised dealers but we have heard of some horror stories also with regards to importing vehicles.

We at National Numbers have been racking our brains as to how to help. We have decided to launch a “Document Checking Service”, similar to the passport checking facility offered by the post office. This idea has suggested itself because if any slight error or omission is identified at DVLA, Swansea, the whole transaction is returned to the applicant.

This is frustrating since a waiting time of about three weeks has already been incurred. Obviously, another 2-3 weeks in the queue will ensure you up on you submitted your application.

Our service will include Royal mail special delivey between Swansea and ourselves. Incidentally, we don't want to waste the expertise of local office personnel and we are involved in, hopefully, recruiting staff to assist in providing this new service.

We would like to thank your local Stockton office and wish Alison and the staff all the best in the future. Good luck Emma with your new venture, and also good luck Jan with your house-sitting adventures. All best wishes to Rose and Jenny who have gone to the local prison, thankfully only to the Administration Department!

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