A Cautionary Tale

This may particularly interest those of around my age, of whom I believe there are quite a few in Chilworth. DVLA have not been sending out reminders about ten-year renewals of photos on driving licences nor, it seems, reminders about the need to renew at 70. I’m approaching my 70th birthday, and when I looked at my licence I thought it had already expired. The photo was overprinted with a date in the past and field 4b (Date of Expiry) was the same old date. Rather confusingly, column 11 on the reverse of the licence (keyed as ‘Validity Date’) indicated that the licence was still valid. Your guess is good as mine: which date trumps which – ‘Date of Expiry’ or ‘Validity Date’?

These conflicting dates clearly raised a problem because when I tried to renew online, back came the response that I must call a particular DVLA phone line which, of course, was unavailable because of the pandemic. Having read of the half-a-million plus case backlog because of DVLA’s pandemic-related staff shortages, I had visions of having to drive with an expired licence. There seemed to be no way of getting through to anyone at DVLA.

To cut a long story short, I e-mailed our local MP, Caroline Nokes, to ask her to intervene on my behalf. She quickly did so, keeping me informed along the way until today she could forward DVLA’s response. Not only did they cover all the issues, they are sending me a form with a pre-addressed return envelope so that the same person will ensure that the whole problem is resolved with no further confusion.

I don’t make a habit of asking our MP for this kind of help, but I have contacted her on several occasions over the years and she always replies promptly and as helpfully as possible. This should be no surprise, given that Write To Them has consistently ranked her in the top handful of all MPs for responsiveness. I’m not suggesting that we should bombard her with requests for help – far from it – but it’s good to know that when all else fails we can count on her to get stuck in.

[If you’re having a similar problem to the one I outlined above, e-mail me and I’ll give you more details of DVLA’s response, and the contact details they’ve provided.]

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