There’s nothing quite like a freedom of information request to stir things up.
On this occasion it was a BBC local radio station wondering why, in its area of Hertfordshire, rather a lot of cars were being clamped by the DVLA. I provided some sarcastic comment on the phenomenon.
Well, it isn’t so much an unexplained series of events as the rather obvious consequence of motorists failing to pay their road tax.
As we all know, since October last year it has been all change down at the DVLA. In case you need reminding, road tax no longer stays with the car when it is sold. The seller automatically receives a refund and the buyer needs to tax the vehicle before it is used on the road.
I bought a car last October and seemed to know rather more about the system than the car dealer and even the DVLA. The dealer insisted that I could drive away without a care in the world. When I applied for a refund a few weeks later, the DVLA took rather a long time to deal with it all. I would like to think it’s all rather quicker now.
There really is no excuse for not paying your road tax. There may no longer be a little disc in the corner of your car’s windscreen to prompt you that it’s due, but the DVLA is still posting out its V11 reminder form. If you choose to ignore that, you could get clamped.
I’ve noticed that some of the more sensationalist elements of Her Majesty’s press have suggested there are huge conspiracies at work. Certainly the stats suggest that the DVLA is a little busier in certain areas, with a 500% rise in the clamping of untaxed cars reported in some places.
Overall, from January to May this year, 74,590 vehicles were clamped for unpaid road tax, up from 49,466 in the same period the previous year - a rise of 51%. It costs a driver up to £800 in fines and related fees to get their car back. Areas experiencing the biggest rises in clamping include Hereford, Plymouth and Motherwell.
However, I did my duty and ploughed through the spreadsheets. What I noticed is that the largest numbers of forgetful motorists live in the postcodes of major cities such as Coventry and Birmingham. But even before the new rules came in, that’s where the evaders lived. Always have. And it’s easier to go clamping mad in built-up areas than it is out in the countryside.
I would like to know whether you find the process of taxing your car any more complicated than before and just how irritating it is that the unused tax can’t be passed on. Please email me at email@example.com.