King’s Lynn hire company boss welcomes online licence move

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A new system replacing the paper part of the licence with an online database of motorists’ records came into force on Monday.

Government officials have claimed the move will save drivers money and help to improve road safety.

And the reform has been backed by Ian Wells, manager of Thrifty Car and Van Rental’s branch in North Street.

He said they had been preparing for the switch for some time and have new technology in place to help customers get to grips with the change.

He said: “It’s not going to cause us any issues. It’s just a new procedure.”

Craig Smith, fleet manager of the A10 Autocentre, on the North Lynn industrial estate, said they were having to ask customers to go online in their premises until the system is fully operational.

But he was also confident that the move will improve the system in the longer term.

Under the new system, motorists can check their licence details online and generate a code through which that information can be shared with third parties, such as employers or car hire companies. Summaries of individual driving records can also be downloaded and printed.

But the codes only last for three days and some fear that holidaymakers will have to go online again to secure a second code if they want to hire a car abroad.

Critics also claim many drivers are still not aware of the new procedures, while the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, the body which represents the car hire industry, said the change had been rushed through.

And Crieghton Parry, owner of Yello Car and Van Hire in North Street, said: “Like all these great government projects, there’s teething problems. On the first day it collapsed.”

Asked whether he thought the system would improve, he said: “It will have to.”

But the government says the ability to access current DVLA records, instead of a paper counterpart that was potentially out of date, will improve road safety and reduce the risk for vehicle hire firms.

Drivers previously had to pay £20 for a replacement paper counterpart.

Around 445,000 replacements were issued last year alone.