The two organisations were joined in their protests by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the Retail Motor Industry Federation, with all four deciding to mount protests 'in the strongest possible terms' and seek meetings with Strang. The SMMT and RMI were due to discuss the controversy with Department of Environment Transport and the Regions officials yesterday (Thursday). The new charge - which would raise more than £50 million a year - will be introduced on April 1 if MPs give it the go ahead. A consultation period on the plan runs until February 16.
ACFO director Stewart Whyte said he was 'dismayed and outraged' at the proposal. Norman Donkin, secretary general of the BVRLA, said: 'The proposal makes a mockery of the promise by Government to consult. It is blatant money-raising by the Treasury.' RMI chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: 'My initial reaction was total disbelief. This industry already raises £28 billion each year - what is the extra money all about? We thought that we were involved as an industry in addressing environmental issues and in working on an integrated transport policy - and then this comes as a bolt from the blue.'
SMMT public affairs director Roger King said the society was shocked by the plan and added: 'We would hope that when the time comes MPs will probe very closely as to why this huge amount of money is required by the DVLA in order for it to run along the same lines as every other business.' Defending the introduction of the charge Strang said introducing 'a modest fee' would improve the efficiency of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.