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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Rethink on car plate change
Scotland the banned
Campaigners have fought against the ban
Car drivers who want to use the Scottish flag on their registration plates could be set for a last minute reprieve.

A change in regulations means that special plates, which have "SCO", the Saltire logo and European Union flag on them, will be banned from 1 September.

All cars registered in the UK can carry the European symbol on the number plate and the letters GB.

But the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is now having second thoughts and the Scottish Executive is expected to back calls to keep the personalised Saltire plates.

Saltire number plate
Police have backtracked on objections
Officials at the DVLA started to reconsider their position after police forces backtracked on initial objections to the plates.

Officers had originally complained that logos on registrations made it more difficult to identify vehicles involved in driving offences.

But they have now withdrawn their objections because better surveillance cameras make this task easier.

The DVLA has confirmed that it has written to the Scottish Executive asking for its view on the matter.

Safety issues

Transport Minister Sarah Boyack said she had no objection to personalised plates and the Saltire should be allowed.

She said: "Last year we were consulted about the safety issues and enforcement issues.

"Things have now moved on and some of the safety considerations that were important last year are being removed as an issue by technology."

Sarah Boyack
Sarah Boyack will soon reply to the DVLA
"I am very keen that we should have the choice in Scotland and that motorists should have a symbol that might be appropriate, whether it's a Saltire or whether it's the European Union symbol."

She said she would be talking to the UK government and the DVLA about the matter.

The new rules on number plates have been introducted to coincide with an overhaul of the way registration identifiers are made up.

But the Scottish National Pary described the devlopment as a climbdown in response to pressure.

The party's environment spokesman Kenny MacAskill claimed that Sarah Boyack had performed a late u-turn even though Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell had voted for the banning of SCO plates in the Commons in April.

'Legislative dogma'

"The SNP want a Scottish victory over London's legislative dogma - not a fudge," said Mr MacAskill.

"The right to have SCO plates in law must now be conceded in full."

New style plates will show which part of the country a vehicle comes from - cars in Scotland will have the letter S - and the six-month period in which it was registered.

Car registered around Glasgow will bear the the letters SA-SJ at the beginning of the number plate.

Edinburgh will use SK-SO, Dundee SP-ST, Aberdeen SU-SW and Inverness SX and SY.

Transport Minister Sarah Boyack
"I am keen that we should have choice in Scotland."
See also:

28 Aug 01 | Scotland
Anger over car plate change
17 Feb 99 | UK
Number's up for car crooks
15 Nov 98 | UK
G1 FTS on a plate
17 Jul 98 | UK
Driving passions
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