April 7, 2022 4.30 pm This story is over 25 months old

Would-be Stagecoach bus driver ‘loses five job offers’ after ‘DVLA shambles’

Harry says he’s been waiting months for a licence ‘upgrade’

An unemployed Lincolnshire man says he has lost countless job opportunities and a career after ‘months of delays’ by the DVLA processing a licence to drive buses for Stagecoach.

Harry Felstead-Solley, 21, is from South Kelsey near Market Rasen and last November he applied to be a trainee bus driver for Stagecoach and was successful. He was unemployed for six months before accepting the job at Stagecoach, apart from temporary a work-from-home job which has recently ended.

Harry said Stagecoach told him it had a fast track scheme so it should only take two weeks to ‘upgrade’ his standard driving licence to a class D provisional. However, that soon turned into several months and he is still waiting now, despite trying to chase up the issue with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency numerous times by phone and email.

The DVLA told The Lincolnite there were “no delays” in processing applications from bus and lorry drivers. However, in March 2022, Harry said he was told by the DVLA it was in the final phase of his licence checks, and he is still waiting now.

He kept in contact with Stagecoach since his application, but he said the situation was out of both the bus company’s and his control. Unfortunately, on April 6 Harry says Stagecoach withdrew its job offer, blaming the licence delay.

Harry says job offers were also withdrawn for car compound driving with Manpower, a delivery driver for Tesco and Morrisons, and a BT engineer with an agency company. Harry says he applied for these jobs to get cash while he waited to start work as a bus driver, but claims they were unable to perform a licence check and the offers were taken away.

He submitted a formal complaint to the DVLA on December 8 last year before sending another to the organisation on April 6, 2022.

Harry says he received a reply on April 7 which he said stated his “application for a driving licence has been processed” on that date and he should receive it “within 10 working days of the processed date”. In an email to Harry, the DVLA said it was currently operating on reduced staffing levels due to social distancing rules meaning “there are continuing delays with applications” and in reaching the contact centre.

In response, Harry told The Lincolnite: “I won’t hold my breath but it still does not give a valid reason as to why it’s taken five months and nor does it even say anything regarding the jobs I have lost because of this process.”

Harry after passing his driving test in 2020.

Harry recently moved house with his parents and says they received their updated licences from the DVLA in two days, so it makes his five-month long, and counting, wait “even more frustrating”. When he tried to update his address it stated the licence was no longer valid, meaning when any prospective employer tried to run a check his licence would also show up as invalid.

Harry said he finally got hold of the DLVA in March, but claimed when he told them he was going to complain they said they could not help him.

Harry told The Lincolnite: “With the situation on my licence, I find it difficult to understand. I have had a full normal licence for two years now and have a class 2 provisional on it.

“To drive buses I needed the class D provisional on it to work for Stagecoach. However, because the DVLD have stated they have revoked my licence to put this additional licence on, employers that require a full licence cannot even see that I do have a licence.

“It just comes up as invalid which I was concerned about if I am now driving illegally, but the DVLA stated I am fine to continue driving while I wait for my licence.”

He added: “Something needs to be done about this. COVID-19 is no longer a reason for this. The whole country has been open for over a year now.

“Yet again, because of the DVLA, I have lost a job, a whole career now that I really wanted to go into, and with no reason for it at all.

“I asked for my licence back and they will not give it to me without the class D licence, and this is stopping me from getting a job because I have no way of proving I have a licence.”

When he asked the DVLA why he was not informed about his licence being revoked to get the additional licence privileges he was told that he could still legally drive in the meantime due to section 88 of the Road Traffic Act.

The DVLA told The Lincolnite it was unable to comment on Harry’s case, but a spokesperson said: “There are no delays in our processing of applications from bus and lorry drivers, with straightforward applications being turned around in five days.”

“There may be delays if further checks are needed before a licence can be issued. Most of our transactions are now back within normal processing times and we have opened new customer service centres in Swansea and Birmingham to reduce processing times for paper applications.”

| Photo: Stagecoach

This comes at a time when Stagecoach have been recruiting due to a driver shortage, which has caused a plethora of cancellations and delays.

The bus company declined to comment on Harry’s specific case, but The Lincolnite also asked about the impact of DVLA delays on Stagecoach’s recruitment drive as cancellations continue to affect Lincolnshire.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach East Midlands said: “Only a small number of our recruits have been impacted by delays with the DVLA processing licences, which is affecting the wider transport sector and is out of our control.

“We are pleased that the DVLA are now processing applications more quickly and we look forward to seeing our new drivers on the roads soon.”

Harry added: “Although they [Stagecoach] have no control over the situation, they have been in contact with me since day one. The manager has been really helpful by advising me what the next stage was, and he did keep the door open for me as long as possible hence waiting for five months.

“But unfortunately Stagecoach cannot wait for any more from a business point of view, which I understand and I have the utmost respect for them for being honest which you don’t get with a lot of employers.”