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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Rethink over dragons on car plates
New number plate
New plates are friendly to Europe, but not to Wales
An urgent review of the use of the Welsh flag on car registration plates has been ordered by the UK transport minister just hours before new rules make them illegal.

New-style plates due out on 1 September - introducing the biggest change to the system in a century - are only allowed to feature European Union or the British union flags.

There is strong support among motorists for the introduction of registration plates which show a Welsh symbol

Paul Murphy, Welsh Secretary
But Transport Minister John Spellar MP has said that the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea, is to rethink the use of flags and symbols.

The new registration system already promises to give Wales a taste of its own motoring identity, with the inclusion of "C" for Cymru, followed by one of three regional identifiers to indicate Cardiff, Swansea or Bangor.

The new regulations also let drivers voluntarily display the European circle of blue stars together with the 'Union Jack', allowing travellers within Europe to dispense with a separate "GB" sticker.

Red dragon

Some motorists had already sought to use the red dragon, rampant lion or St Andrew's cross on their plates.

But such flags and symbols are banned under the new legislation.

Welsh flag
The Welsh flag is banned from new plates
The DVLA's eight-week review will begin at the start of October and could lead to the inclusion of Welsh and Scottish flags on number plates.

Mr Spellar said he recognised that some motorists in the UK wanted to display their own national symbols on plates.

"Furthermore, technical developments mean that a wider range of options is now possible," he said.

"The government is keen to cater for all UK motorists and will, therefore, consult widely but urgently on proposals to amend the regulations."

Review welcomed

The news has been welcomed by Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy.

"I know from the many representations made to me that there is strong support among motorists for the introduction of registration plates which show a Welsh symbol and I have discussed the situation with the transport minister," he said.

Scotland's Transport Minister Helen Liddell said the planned ban on national flags was "ridiculous".

See also:

28 Aug 01 | Wales
Cars to get Welsh identity
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
01 Mar 01 | Business
Y-reg cars hit the road
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