Protests over Lincoln DVLA closure threat

(L-R) Jenny Rollit, Lauraine Compton and Ann Fletcher protesting outside the Firth Road DVLA branch

Staff at the Lincoln DVLA branch have been protesting against the proposed closure of the office during their lunch break on February 14.

Around 16 staff took shifts in pairs from 12.30pm to 1.30pm to campaign against the “massacre of public services” and to save their jobs.

The protest was held in the lunch hour, so that services at the branch are not interrupted, but this meant only a few staff were able to be out at a time.

As previously reported, the government plans to close 39 DVLA local and enforcement offices around the UK, including the Firth Road branch in Lincoln.

The regional office carries out administrative functions, such as vehicle inspections, arranging trade plates for garages and transfers of registration marks.

The plans are subject to a public consultation, but DVLA prefers all offices to close, and the services centralised, put online or provided by third parties.

Sixteen jobs are at risk in Lincoln and around 1,200 jobs nationwide, in a bid to save £28 million in the 2014/15 financial year.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) staged the lunchtime demonstrations across the country, including in the city.

Lauraine Compton, PCS Representative, worked for DVLA for 18 years and said the city office served more than 48,000 people with just 12 clerks last year.

“We do a lot more than just tax cars,” Compton explained. “We also have a small enforcement team to deal with the prosecutions for Lincolnshire and beyond.

“Centralisation may interrupt our work with local councils, courts and police and may contribute to a rise in the evasion rate.

“The level of vehicle excise duty evasion was 5% five years ago. Now it’s down to 0.5% through the new initiatives and hard work of the enforcement staff.

“Each percent is worth £62.5 million, so if evasion goes up by even 1%, it will cancel out any expected savings,” she added.

Photo: Dominic Clark for The Lincolnite