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Hundreds caught in tax crackdown

PUBLISHED: 02:41 28 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:43 03 March 2010

HUNDREDS of people have been forced to pay for a new tax disc after they were caught by a crackdown in Suffolk to identify road tax cheats.

In the first few days of the ten-day campaign the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) used a camera to identify more than 300 people driving without paying the annual road tax of £160.

HUNDREDS of people have been forced to pay for a new tax disc after they were caught by a crackdown in Suffolk to identify road tax cheats.

In the first few days of the ten-day campaign the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) used a camera to identify more than 300 people driving without paying the annual road tax of £160.

More than 60 vehicles were clamped and the motorists had to pay £200 each to get them released. Offenders also had to pay the back duty owing from when the vehicle was last licensed.

But law-abiding motorists have also been caught up in the drive to catch people dodging the road tax. The DVLA admitted some people had received letters saying they were unlicensed when in fact they did have a proper tax disc.

Those affected are motorists in the Ipswich area who have taken their tax disc application to a post office in the last two months. The application has been processed and the information sent to the local DVLA office in Ipswich.

However, there have been ''technical hitches'' at the Ipswich office and the records have not been updated. Then when the car registration number plate is checked with Ipswich out-of-date information mistakenly shows that the owner has not obtained a new tax disc.

A DVLA spokeswoman said: ''It is just unfortunate that the campaign has been running at the same time. They are rectifying this so the backlog will be cleared as soon as possible. Unfortunately they have not been able to up date as quickly as they normally do due to the hitch.''

She was unable to give details of the length of the backlog but one person affected paid £160 in June to renew his tax for another 12 months.

Richard Beech, of Mill View Close, Woodbridge, was ''caught'' within an hour of the crackdown starting on September 16 when he was driving on the A12 on the Ipswich side of the Grundisburgh junction.

He received a letter from the DVLA office, St Clare House, Greyfriars, Ipswich, this week warning him that he could receive a maximum penalty of £1,000 if he did not license his Ford Focus car.

Mr Beech, whose car was displaying a valid disc, said: ''I phoned the DVLA office and asked what was going on and the gist of it was that the DVLA records are in such a mess and there have been several phone calls about this.''

He was told to send a photocopy of his tax disc or the disc number to prove he had paid the tax. The DVLA said the details of all motorists who claimed they had paid could be checked against records kept by post offices.

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