They were once considered the last word in motoring style but drivers could be falling out of love with personalised number plates.
An independent signage company based in Falkirk has blamed a decline in sales of such plates on increased paperwork for potential customers and the general downturn in the economy.
It follows scathing criticism of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by the Scottish Motor Trade Association over delays customers face in buying new plates for their cars.
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Last year the DVLA raised £67m from the sale of personalised number plates. But Douglas Robertson, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, says that delays are putting off more customers and costing businesses.
He said: “The transfer of personalised numbers from one vehicle to another is supposed to take seven-to-eight working days maximum. However we have found, over the past couple of months, this can often extend to six weeks. This is causing frustration amongst customers who cannot put their cars on the road and also to many of our dealers whose cash flow can suffer badly.”
Mary Keegan of Falkirk’s The Sign Factory, which manufactures number plates, says its sales of personalised plates have dipped in recent years.
“Since new legislation was brought in, we have seen fewer sold. But this could also be down to the fact that people are spending less in general.”
A spokeswoman for the DVLA said: “The maximum processing time for personalised registration applications has not changed with the introduction of the new process, and we are still committed to our turnaround time of seven working days from receipt of the application at DVLA.
“However, we are currently experiencing some delays in the processing of personalised registration applications which means some applications are delayed.”