When the vehicle licensing office opened a new office in Belfast a few years ago – at the revitalised Gasworks Business Park – there was a wonderful irony about the choice of location. Presumably the powers that be had some inkling that hordes of motorists would come visiting – to renew their road vehicle licences. Therefore, it stood to reason that one of the least citizen-friendly of our local quangos should make it impossible to park anywhere near their gleaming new offices. Weird logic.
The Minister responsible for this particular rotten spud of local administration gone crazy is none other than the hapless and often indiscipherable Alex Attwood (he of North of Ireland fame).
It turns out that the local Vehicle Licensing Agency has recently discovered that its “customers” may like to use a new-fangled contrivance called The Internet to order and pay for their new tax discs, driving licences and what-have-you. Heaven forbid that such modernistic services could be provided by the DVANI. But here’s the rub – it would be relatively easy to close down the entire shambolic edifice of DVANI and transfer all the operations to the DVLA in Swansea.
Now Alex is all for improving services and introducing efficiencies. But, God forbid that any of the DVANI staff should lose their jobs.
So, while private businesses struggle to make their payroll every month, while retail businesses close up shop across Northern Ireland, while call centres lay-off hundreds of staff in their quest for efficiencies – Alex simply won’t have any DVANI staff lay-offs, not on his watch.
The Attwood, “It’s Logic Jim, but not as we know it” attitude to governance is indicative of the malaise at the heart of Northern Ireland’s puny-minded government. Every effort should be made to get rid of the absurd, inefficient and moribund agencies that long ago lost any fitness for purpose.
DVANI should be closed as soon as is practicable and the “services” it provides transferred to a central facility, servicing the majority of the Kingdom. Economies of scale, Alex. Crazy but true.