Scores in Norfolk caught up in DVLA driving licence delays

File photo of a driving licence.

People in Norfolk have faced delays over driving licence applications. - Credit: Press Association Images

A coach driver who says he lost work because of delays in getting his licence renewed is among scores of people in Norfolk hit by hold-ups at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

And a Norfolk MP, who says his postbag is being dominated by such complaints, has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps about the problem.

File photo dated 07/10/12 of Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps, who has insisted Starbucks ha

Transport secretary Grant Shapps. - Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

The DVLA has said Covid-19 and the impact of previous industrial action has caused delays with processing paper applications.

And the organisation has warned of further delays in processing more complex cases, such as when medical investigations are needed as part of driving licence applications.

Coach driver Aidan Harman, 55, from Dereham, is among those caught up in delays. He has diabetes and has to apply for a short-term medical licence each year.

But the DVLA, while allowing online applications for other types of licences, does not offer such a service for coach drivers with medical conditions, like Mr Harman.

Mr Harman applied at the start of October last year, but is still waiting for his licence, although he has been told it will arrive soon.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea. - Credit: PA

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Mr Harman says it is not an issue just down to Covid-19 - because he has had issues for the past four years.

This year, he went to his own doctor in anticipation of needing to show he was fit to drive.

But once he applied for his licence - which he had to do by post - when they wrote back weeks later, he was told he needed to be seen by a consultant chosen by the DVLA.

Mr Harman said a combination of him forgetting to sign a declaration form and the DVLA misplacing documents led to further delays - and his licence expired.

He said: "I've been losing out on work for three or four months each year while I wait to get the licence renewed.

"If these checks could be done by my own doctor and I could apply online, they would get it immediately".

The office of George Freeman has been helping Mr Harman and others, having had more than 80 complaints about DVLA delays since the pandemic started.

George Freeman MP speaking at the official opening of The Blue Lion pub in North Pickenham. Picture:

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman - Credit: Archant

That has prompted the Conservative Mid Norfolk MP to write to the transport secretary - asking him what the government can do to speed up the backlog.

George Freeman letter to Grant Shapps

George Freeman MP's letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps. - Credit: George Freeman

What the DVLA says

A DVLA spokesperson said: "There are delays with processing paper applications, due to previous industrial action, and ongoing Covid safety measures.

"More complex cases, for example, if medical investigations are needed, may take longer to process but we are continuing to prioritise applications for bus and lorry licences.

"All drivers must meet certain minimum medical standards, with additional health checks for drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles.

"Once a driver has submitted their application, they may be able to continue to drive while we are processing it, provided they have not been told by their doctor or optician they should not drive.”