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Saturday, 8 December, 2001, 18:03 GMT
U-turn on car plate change
Scotland the banned
Campaigners have fought against the ban
The government appears set to make a U-turn over allowing Scottish drivers to display the Saltire flag on their number plates.

The Department for Transport will announce the results of a consultation exercise shortly.

Both the Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell and the former Scottish Transport Minister Sarah Boyack had lobbied for a change of heart.

Ever since the car registration system was overhauled in September, the only symbol allowed on number plates has been the European Union flag with the letters GB underneath.

Saltire number plate
Police have backtracked on objections
That meant a ban on number plates featuring Scotland's Saltire flag - the blue cross of St Andrew.

But the move stirred the anger of many motorists, and vehicle licensing body the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) quickly launched a consultation exercise.

That has now finished and the UK Transport Minister John Spellar is expected to make a statement to the Commons before Christmas.

And while the Department for Transport in London is refusing to confirm a report that it has changed its mind, a senior government source told BBC Scotland that it seemed all but certain that the Saltire would be allowed again.

Driving offences

The motoring organisation the RAC said that if that happened, it would be a triumph for good sense.

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But they have now withdrawn their objections because better surveillance cameras make this task easier.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 new rules on number plates have been introduced to coincide with an overhaul of the way registration identifiers are made up.

New style plates 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 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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jamie McIvor reports
"The move stirred the anger of many motorists."
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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