Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
When is a tax disc not a tax disc? Well, obviously, when it’s a Road Fund Licence and, as of October, when it ceases to be a physical document at all, and succumbs to the inevitable march of electronic digitisation.
Popularly called the ‘tax disc’ - and in fairness even the DVLA has succumbed to popular nomenclature - it’s the most expensive beer mat you’ll ever purchase. Anyone who has ever painstakingly spent an hour, separating every single perforation neatly, in order to place a pristine doily in the lower lefthand corner of their windscreen … really needs to get out more, or seek counselling.
Whether the dreaded letter from DVLA is due or not, around the time the leaves turn tarnished each year, it’s the autumn of disc content for drivers, as, after having the adhesive of their tax disc holder dried up by the long, hot summer, they form up in convoy and nip down to Halfords to buy a new one. Stop right there! Save yourself a fiver this year. Gaffer tape the old one back up for a few weeks. As of the first of October this year, you’ll no longer be required to display a disc in your windscreen at all.
“Hurrah,” exclaim a million budget conscious motorists. Sadly, they exclaim a moment too soon. The roundel of road funding may be about to demise, but not the levy for which it is a receipt.
No longer will your dodgy neighbour’s contempt for society be exposed by the jam label in their windscreen. Robinson’s of Dundee is already scaling back printing - as has the DVLA. Indeed, our friends in Swansea were a bit over eager. In a botch up, which the Telegraph said was couched as an environmental measure to avoid waste, the DVLA has already run out of the specially perforated paper. New tax discs this month may actually drop through your letterbox with instructions on how to cut them out yourself!
Not that it really matters. Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras have been in use for many years, for a variety of tasks. Anyone who knows what the code “SP30” means will already be all too aware of this. Now, no matter what your speed may be, they’ll be officially used to cross-reference for unlicensed cars as well.
So another pillar of our national heritage succumbs to the ghost in the online machine. Let’s hope the ANPR software works more reliably than the infernal annual fiddle fest, as car owners the country over tried to neatly extract their tax disc from the circular perforations of the ever-so-slightly too firm paper it has been traditionally printed upon.
In an act of defiance, you can legitimately make confetti of the disc on the first day of October. Although, not that we lack faith in Government sponsored computerisation, we’re keeping our tax discs intact in the glovebox for a wee while yet.