The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has admitted tonight that no decision has been reached regarding September's UK vehicle registration plates. The problem has arisen because the two-digit year sequence numbers on registration plates has now reached 10.
Two numbers are required for each year in order to identify the age of the vehicle. Over the last nine years the sequence has consisted of 02 and 52 in 2002, 03 and 53 in 2003 and so on until 09 and 59 in 2009.
Earlier this year the first 2010 plates came out with 10. Now there is disagreement about what comes next.
The government was expecting the next number to be 1A, followed by 11 then 1B and so on. An all party working group came up with the sequence following an intensive review of the registration schemes used in the Cayman Islands and on Antigua. A series of fact-finding tours during 2008/9 identified and studied the scheme and ministers and their partners were all in favour of it.
But by this time the DVLA had also come up with their own system, and have published details in a number of official documents. The DVLA system follows 10 with 510, then 11 and 511, which in some ways sticks to the previous sequence, but also adds an additional character to the plates.
Now a third group has thrown its hat into the ring with what they say is a simplified solution that should be adopted instead. The motoring interest group at my local is suggesting that after 10 the next number should be 60. Then in 2011, 11 should be followed by 61. In 2020, 20 will be followed by 70. Ridiculous as it seems, this scheme is gaining in popularity even though it would fail in 2051 and have to be replaced be a completely new scheme.
Unfortunately there has yet to be a final decision, and as the 1st September deadline approaches it now seems likely that the Prime Minister will be forced to make a ruling. Will he abandon a cumbersome scheme that has already cost an estimated £1.1M in travel expenses, to adopt a complex alternative requiring variable length plates?
Or will he choose the faintly ludicrous system dreamt up by a group of parody writers? If you start to see references to new '60' registration vehicles in the next few months you will have your answer.