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DVLA delays mean Mervyn is stuck at home

A RETIRED ambulance driver has told how he has been left stranded for months while waiting for the DVLA to renew his driving licence.

Mervyn Hughes, 82, who lives in Wootton Wawen, rang the Herald in desperation this week after being unable to drive himself and his wife to hospital appointments.

“I haven’t slept because of the worry, I’m like a zombie,” he said.

His wife, Maureen, has just got the all-clear following a battle with cancer, but still has regular appointments at Warwick Hospital while Mervyn is diabetic.

The couple were also no longer able to drive into Stratford to do their weekly shop or visit their three children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, all of whom live more than 45 miles away. They’ve also had to cancel a holiday invitation to Eastbourne.

Mervyn’s licence expired in early March at which point he renewed it. However, since then the DVLA has been leading him in circles and nearly five months later he is still without a licence and unable to drive.

“It expired on 2nd March,” explained Mervyn. “I renewed it and sent a photo. A few weeks later they said they needed a photo. In April I spoke to someone who said they had everything, but then got a letter thanking me for letting them know about my ‘medical problem’ and asking me to renew my licence.

Although you can drive without a licence while DVLA process the application, it has to be in possession of a complete and correct application otherwise legally you can't drive.

“It’s maddening. I’ve sent everything required and five or six registered letters asking what’s happening and I haven’t got a sensible response, they just go unanswered.”

It has been reported that the DVLA office in Swansea has a backlog of 1.4million applications and correspondence, and receives 60,000 new items of mail every day adding to the backlog.

As well as previously driving an ambulance for Warwick Hospital, Mervyn was a submariner for ten years and also worked as an HGV driver. He is proud to have held a clean licence for 54 years, with only one minor prang, and that wasn’t his fault.

“It was 1969 and I was driving the ambulance when a jeweller from H Samuel braked suddenly in front of me. He was all apologies. In those days the ambulances had a bell on the front, and that was buried in the rear of his car.”

After the Herald contacted Nadhim Zahawi on Mervyn’s behalf, the Stratford MP vowed to help and urged him to get in contact.

Mr Zahawi said: “I’m very concerned to hear about the difficulties Mr Hughes reports facing in renewing his driving licence, particularly in these circumstances.”

However, there was no need for Mr Zahawi to take action. After the Herald intervened, the DVLA rang the frustrated driver with a promise that they had expediated his licence request and he would receive it within a couple of days.

“This is such a relief,” said Mervyn. “I will be able to relax and enjoy a proper night’s sleep for the first time in five months. Thank you, this is a lifesaver.”

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