HC Deb 11 March 1981 vol 1000 cc349-51W
Mr. Trotter

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether in view of the fact that there have been queues of more that 60 persons in the Newcastle vehicle licensing office following the closure of the Durham office and its amalgamation with that in Newcastle, he will take action to prevent excessive delays in future; and what the longest delay has been for anyone seeking to license a car at Newcastle;

(2) which post offices in the area of the Newcastle vehicle licensing office now issue vehicle licences; which have recently started to do so; to what extent the public use the post offices rather than licensing offices; whether there has been the intended increase in use of post offices since the Durham licensing office closed; and whether he is satisfied that members of the public are aware of the post office facility and the extent to which licences can be obtained at the licensing office but not at the post offices.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

On the last two working days in February, at lunch time, some applicants at the Newcastle office had to wait for more than half an hour. I am sorry for the inconvenience this caused. I assure my hon. Friend that such delays are unusual. I understand that most of the applications could have been dealt with at post offices and I am grateful for the opportunity to emphasise the advantage of using the more local service at post offices for relicensing.

As my hon. Friend is aware, we have provided an extended relicensing service by enabling post offices to handle almost all relicensing applications and by increasing from 2,000 to 3,000 nationally the number of post offices involved. These arrangements began last March. They were publicised in various ways, including posters in our own licensing offices and post offices and special messages on relicensing forms.

Many motorists throughout the country are now taking advantage of the arrangements; about 70 per cent. of relicensing work is now handled at post offices compared with about 55 per cent. before the extended service was provided. Similar figures for Durham and Newcastle are not readily available and I am sorry if our continuing publicity has not been fully effective there. We shall certainly continue to publicise the new arrangements and I am confident that as public awareness of them increases delays in our offices will disappear.

The following post offices in the Newcastle and Durham postal districts, and within about 15 miles of the town centres, now do relicensing work. Those in which the service has recently been provided are asterisked.

Newcastle Postal Area

  • Barras Bridge
  • Bedlington
  • Benwell Grove
  • Blackett Street
  • Blaydon
  • Blyth
  • Consett
  • Cramlington
  • East Boldon*
  • Felling*
  • Forest Hall
  • Gallowgate
  • Gateshead
  • Gosforth
  • Hamstersley Colliery*
  • Heaton
  • Hebburn
  • Jarrow
  • Low Fell*
  • Newcastle (Head Office)
  • New Washington*
  • North Shields
  • Ponteland*
  • Prudhoe
  • Rowlands Gill*
  • Ryton*
  • South Shields
  • Stanley
  • Stocksfield*
  • Wallsend
  • Washington
  • Whickham*
  • Whitley Bay

Durham Postal Area

  • Birtley
  • Chester-le-Street
  • Coxhoe*
  • Durham (Head Office)
  • Houghton-le-Spring (2)
  • Langley Park*
  • Pelton*
  • Sacriston*
  • Shiney Row*
  • Shotton Colliery*
  • Wheatley Hill*

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