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HELLO THERE!
WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.
--- HEDDWCH

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Nailed Down and Left to Rot

Thought it about time this ‘laugh if it wasn’t so bloody devastating’ saga got an airing here.

When you make it to the grand old age of 70 years you have to renew your driving licence. I made it on 5th June.

DVLA sent me the forms for renewal in March and I duly completed them and sent them in pretty much by return. As I’m disabled, there were medical forms too along with permission for them to look at my medical records if they though that necessary. No problem.

Five days after my 70th birthday I got a letter from a Dr Sheppard from the DVLA Medical Panel telling me they were refusing to renew my driving licence on medical grounds - that I was:

“dependent on alcohol/a persistent misuser of alcohol”

I wrote straight back saying this was nonsense - I was no by means teetotal and enjoyed a drink but never during the day and certainly never when driving and although my GP and I, as I’m a medication controlled diabetic, had discussed levels of drink these were never of an order which could be described as dependency or persistent misuse.

In that same letter I made a Freedom of Information Act request for the evidence they had to justify their refusal - and for a copy of their Disability Equality Scheme which I could find nowhere on their website. They have totally ignored this and I have written to the Information Commissioner about it.

I saw my GP on 23rd June (the first appointment I could get). He wrote to Dr Sheppard on 25th saying how “wrong” the decision was and fully supporting what I was saying.

The only way a DVLA decision of this kind can be challenged is by an appeal in the local magistrates court (although DVLA advise you threateningly that if you lose your appeal it can be expensive as you’ll be required to pay the DVLA’s legal costs).

On 23rd July I had a letter from a Mr C.C. Kenyon of the “Medical Appeals Section” (even though they state firmly that you cannot appeal directly to DVLA). That letter was a fair measure of DVLA’s incompetence and my reply was:

“I have your letter of 23rd July, 2008. You say: “...advising that you seek guidance from your doctor.” and “The Medical Adviser can be contacted by your GP…” It seems to me you don’t pass on files or talk to each other in your organisation. I saw my GP about this matter on 23rd of June and he wrote to the Medical Panel on 25th June saying how wrong he considers the DVLA decision to be. Furthermore I wrote to you (DVLA) on 11th June, 17th June, 7th July, and 18th July.

You said: “...the Secretary of State accepts your letter as formal notice of your intention of appealing...” That is very good of the Secretary of State considering that the right of appeal is enshrined in human rights law.

You said: “When writing please provide a contact number,…” My telephone number is on all of the above letters except for 7th July.

I am determined that DVLA will not get away with this gross injustice and, although I cannot afford a solicitor, the court has offered its best help and guidance. I have prepared what is still a draft statement for the court and in the interests of openness I have enclosed a copy of this for your information.“

So the appeal in the Gt Yarmouth magistrates court initiated in July and acknowledged by DVLA had its preliminary hearing yesterday.

After waiting at the court for an hour, I asked the usher why the delay. He said that no-one from DVLA had turned up and they were waiting for a fax from them.

After another hour I suggested that, as it was my appeal against DVLA the hearing should go ahead without them. The magistrates agreed and my statement and the signatures of 23 people who have known me well for many years evidencing that they had never seen me under the influence of alcohol were accepted.

The Clerk of the Court then told me and the magistrates that when no-one from DVLA had showed up he had phoned them: they denied knowledge of the hearing, despite them having acknowledged it when the date was fixed - and even denied knowledge of my case!!!!

So I still can't drive and I still have no idea of what evidence they used to refuse to renew my licence.

I’m sure if anyone else had behaved in this way they would be charged with contempt of court but DVLA seem to come under different laws to the rest of us. Where else could such a decision devastating to people’s lives be made in such an arbitrary way without tangible evidence? Certainly EU Human Rights says it can’t (see the Winterwerp case for example).

I’m sure it is absolutely necessary to have checks on people’s suitability to drive but isn’t just reserving this for 70 year olds age discrimination? And if there is doubt shouldn’t they be required to produce proper evidence of suitability/unsuitability and not just make an arbitrary judgement? Who was that paediatrician struck off for just watching TV and reading reports and not bothering to examine properly?

1 comment:

mandy lifeboats appeal said...

Hi Mike

Have you heard anything further in regards to the saga over renewing your driving license.

Is clear another government organisation is too incompetent to deliver a proper service. they keep adding up don't they? All these useless layers.

Hope they sort it soon. Let me know how it goes. :>)

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