Digital disaster for drivers


Unless the new Government stops ignoring concerns, and ends the complacency, I fear that only further chaos looms ahead.

By Richard Burden

Originally published by HuffPost, June 11, 2015

New Government, same problems.

This week saw the final abolition of the ‘Counterpart Driving Licence’ – the green paper sheet holding a drivers’ convictions and entitlements. It has been replaced with an online database, the ‘MyLicence’ system. The change was promised by the former Coalition to cut costs and save time for motorists and businesses. But surprise, surprise the digital switch has not gone smoothly.

The information on the paper counterpart is vital for many employment, road safety and enforcement purposes – used to carry out safety checks on HGV drivers, for car-hire by the rental and leasing industry and by the Police. That is why I have been warning the Government for months that motorists and businesses need a robust replacement.

But what have we seen? Widespread confusion about the change, particularly because Ministers clearly have not thought through how holiday car rental will work. Travellers wishing to rent a car abroad will now need to generate a digital code which expires after just three days. What use is that for those who need a car in an emergency – or those who don’t have access to the internet abroad?

And widespread anger too, because the MyLicence site has frequently crashed since it was launched on Monday. After the DVLA’s technical problems on the day the paper tax disc was abolished, there are no excuses for this Government’s failure to prepare for the digital switch. The chaos risks continuing over the summer as British people heading abroad for their holidays will be reliant on this website for renting a vehicle.

So why didn’t Ministers heed warnings from Labour, the AA and from the British Vehicle and Rental Licensing Agency (BVRLA) about the need for proper communication and planning to ensure the change is managed well? …

Read the full article here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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