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We had hiccups over Christmas, they weren't too serious and it was January 6th before they were cured. In my letter to you last month we celebrated that MGs registered in 1972 but built before 31st December 1971 were eligible from 1st January 1997 for road fund licence exemption. We then received a few calls from members over the holiday period who said that their local vehicle registration office (VRO) had insisted that the exemption is calculated on the day of registration, not manufacture, and that 1971 built but 1972 registered vehicles had to wait until January 1998 before qualifying. We then checked and found that there is a certain amount of confusion amongst some staff at the DVLA who were unsure too. We then looked up the official DVLA form V14/AR Application for Rebate of VED (Vehicle excise duty). Under the question "When does a vehicle qualify for exemption?" the answer is clearly written. "At 25 years of age. This is calculated from the last day of the year in which a vehicle is constructed i.e. from 31st December."
So if you have an MG registered in 1972 but with a chassis number prior to these shown here, then your MG was definitely built in 1971 or earlier and your VED is exempt.
|MG Midget||GAN5 113617|
|MGB GT||GHD5 269303|
There's no need to apply for a refund if your current disc expires from the DVLA and you retain your disc until then. After it's expired, you tax your MG in the normal way, insurance, MOT, V5 etc but you don't have to pay. If your local VRO is unwilling to issue you with a free tax disc without some sort of extra proof that your MG really was built in 1971 then show the officer this article and check your chassis number against those above. If that is insufficient, then obtain a Heritage Certificate (see January 1997 Enjoying MG) or send the club a photocopy of your V5 registration form and a stamped, addressed envelope and we'll send you a club letterhead confirming that your chassis number was built prior to 31st December 1971.
A Revision Driving Test - A Suggestion
I think that we need a new type of Driving Test in Britain. It would be in addition to the normal Learner Test and would be specifically aimed at drivers who by their actions have proved that they could benefit from extra tuition and revision.
To qualify for a Revision Test a driver would have been seen by a police officer to commit an offence but, and this is the crunch, the police officer wouldn't have to necessarily stop the driver to advise him that his bad or inconsiderate driving was being reported.
Quite often you will have seen drivers racing up the motorway just inches behind the car in front. An accident waiting to happen. You will have seen the idiots too lazy to clean their windows after a fall of snow followed by a freeze and trying to peer out of a tiny hole in the screen or driving in filthy conditions with their rear lights and reflective number plate almost totally obscured. You will have seen drivers maintaining 60 mph in the middle lane of a motorway with a juggernaut right on their tail and refusing to move to the clear inside lane. You too may have silently sworn at the fools who insist on putting on their rear red fog lights at night in drizzle and the poseurs who switch on their front spot lights in addition to their headlamps in clear conditions. Are they trying to impress everyone else with their accessory or what? We know that these are all offences in their own right but unfortunately it's not always safe or even possible for a police car to stop these people, especially on a busy road in poor conditions. Then if the police officer is not in a patrol car or is in his or her own vehicle it's even harder to pull someone over safely without proper lights and police signs.
In this campaign a police officer would be able to simply report the number plate of an offender and then the police would write to the keeper of the vehicle requiring the driver details. Once the driver had been identified he or she would be given a set time to apply for a pass a Revision Test. This would be conducted by the Department of Transport and separate to the normal driving test for learners. On this test the examiner would question the driver on the highway code and they would cover use of fog lights, the need to keep lights clean in poor conditions, why it's dangerous to drive close to others etc, etc. The examiner would also test the driver's amongst us who passed the eyesight test at the Learner stage but who couldn't pass it now would be identified and referred for spectacles. If a night eye test could be devised it would also restrict drivers who should only drive during daylight hours if their night vision is appalling - I know of people personally who are a danger to themselves and others at night and they should be stopped. If you know of one or two as well just think how many drivers there are on our roads at night who cannot see properly - it's terrifying!
Once the Revision Test had been passed, the driver would hopefully be a better motorist and of course if the taking of a Revision Test had a stigma then those drivers who knowingly do stupid or dangerous things now may rethink their habits before they are spotted. In addition, any driver returning to the road from a drink driving, speeding or totting up ban would also be required to pay for and pass the Test.
Have a think about this please. If you have any comments or suggestions or if you think it's a daft idea, please write and let me know. If however the suggestion has merit, we can prepare a formal report and forward it to the Department of Transport for consideration. As our MGs are small and vulnerable in today's traffic and as general driving standards are clearly not as good as they could be maybe the Revision Test will create some improvement - I look forward to receiving your comments.
Members' Annual Questionnaires
The Questionnaire Report appears this month and we have separated the marks for the Club's departments too. Overall we were delighted with the positive feedback and clearly the Club is very popular. However we never relax, we are always aware that members' needs are constantly changing and the questionnaires provide enough information to help us to steadily improve.
Members' Recommended Supplier Book
In May we will be posting every member a new Members' Recommended Supplier Book. There have been some deletions from the old book as some MG specialists have ceased trading, merged with others or moved into other marques and there are some new additions. No one pays to be recommended and all recommendations are made by members, no one can recommend themselves. Standards are regularly monitored and if complaints are received by the club we liaise between suppliers and members. If suppliers are unwilling or unable to resolve complaints reasonably then recommendations are withdrawn and the club does consider both the member and the supplier and if a member is complaining unreasonably and possibly trying bullying techniques to have an unreasonable claim settled than we support the supplier. We try to be as fair as we can.
Many members ask how recommended suppliers are policed. Do we have inspectors? And how are Star and Spanner ratings awarded? Yes we do have inspectors, at the last count there were over 48,000 in Britain alone and it's the members who do the inspecting. The star and spanner awards are won by suppliers, workshops etc who poll a sufficient number of votes and an average mark of over 8.0%. Suppliers who provide only workshop facilities handle less customers than a spares outlet and that difference is recognised.
Just before Christmas I was a guest at an Area's Christmas Dinner and I was chatting to an MG Specialist who was complaining that he was suffering from what he described as unfair competition. His workshop was on a business park and he had to pay business rents and rates. On his patch a competitor had started up a business restoring MGs on a farm. With no rent and no rates the farm based restorer could afford to charge lower prices I was asked not to recommend specialists who enjoyed what he felt was an unfair advantage. Sad to say my response didn't please him. I said that it didn't matter where the specialist was based, whether it be on a farm or in the middle of town, what mattered was the quality of work matched of course to a reasonable bill. If members were happy and didn't mind driving to a farm then who were we to suggest that they shouldn't. The conversation changed and the specialist then complained that some firms pretend to carry out work but pass it to a third party, did we approve?
If a specialist advertises that he provides a full restoration service and then passes the mechanical work to one firm and/or the bodywork to another and basically co-ordinates the work and acts as an agent but gives the impression that he is the restorer than we wouldn't be impressed. But if the restorer does most of the work and with the knowledge of the customer passes, say the body painting to another firm, providing the customer is aware and approves, then there is no problem. Of course, if the sub contracted work proves faulty, the recommended specialist is responsible, he has to sort the problem out himself.
So how do you know if the specialist you are considering is going to do a good job of restoring or preparing your MG? First you look them up in the Members' Recommendation Book. If they are advertising as an MG specialist then they should be in the book. If they are not, you are welcome to draw your own conclusions! Then look at the marks given to specialists by members each year. If the marks are consistently high and the specialist has a 5 star (spares) or 5 spanner (workshop) rating then we know that the standard of workmanship is known to be normally very good. If the specialist has a Highly Commended rating then we know that they haven't quite managed a 5 star or 5 spanner award but that they are obviously trying hard to impress. If however the marks are low then you may want to reconsider where you place you business.
Club Insurance Achievement
In December we counted over 45,000 policies and we now easily insure far more MGs than any other insurer. In 1996 the Low Quote Guarantee was applied just over a hundred times when someone claimed that a competitor could undercut the club with a cheaper like for like policy and in every genuine case our underwriter reduced our premium to beat the lower quote by 5% to retain the business. Also in 1996, yours truly was accepted by the Insurance Brokers Registration Council which only accepts bone fide brokers and the rules and regulations which bind me as a registered broker protects members even more than we did before.
A Great Detective
A club member who we will describe as John was travelling at night in his MGB GT along a country road near to his town. Suddenly a car emerged from a T junction without stopping, hit the MG and knocked it off the road. The other car stopped fifty yards away, the driver looked back to see John and his wife emerge from their crashed car and he then quickly drove away. John didn't manage to get the registration number but he recognised the car as a Ford, possibly a Mondeo or a Scorpio. The couple then went to the police, reported the accident and were told that there was little the police could do unless the other driver also reported it. Needless to say, he didn't. John than had a thought, it was possible that this was a local car, after all the hour was late and the accident happened on the outskirts of the town. He then telephoned the local Ford Main dealers and chatted to their workshop managers. Had they had a Ford Mondeo or Scorpio in for estimate or repair? John's luck was in, the Ford was awaiting assessment and had been brought in that morning. John then explained the situation and asked if he could view the car but was told that it was not possible. The manager then suggested that John might want to pop in to the workshop for a cup of tea and a chat, he would leave the side door open to save John coming through reception. John did this and found his Ford, checked the damage, saw the MG paint on the wing and he then told the police that he had an idea where the hit and run Ford was. The police sent their forensic team, matched the car and the driver was prosecuted. John's car was repaired, he reclaimed his excess and the Ford driver received eight points and a hefty fine for failing to report the accident.
Absolutely no decent jokes in the Christmas crackers and none in the post. No doubt you got a cold for Christmas, I did and had to suffer it whilst travelling across London on the tube. It was worse than I thought and I met a fellow sufferer as I queried the station.
Thursday he replied.
Yep, could do with a pint.
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