AB 1 Number Plate Regplates Sale Opinion In The Daily Mail
A police chief has sparked a row by selling one of Britain's most valuable car number plates.
West Mercia Police hope to raise up to £250,000 by auctioning the registration number AB 1.
Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion will put the money towards front line policing and it could pay for 12 new constables for a year.
But retired officers have launched a campaign to stop the sale saying the force is selling off its 'crown jewels'.
More than 700 people have signed a petition urging the force to keep the historic plate, first issued in 1908 and used on the official cars of the Worcestershire Chief Constable.
Experts say its value is increased because there is documentation to show it's only ever had one owner.
Mr Campion said: 'A considered decision has been made to market AB 1. The sale proceeds will be reinvested towards frontline policing in West Mercia.
'My priority is to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected and that West Mercia is a safe place. The public expect that I effectively use the assets at my disposal to do this.'
The registration number, unused for six years, is up for auction with a guide price of £175,000 but is expected to go for a lot more.
Mr Campion added: 'The prospect of a Chief Constable or any public servant using a private number plate belongs in a time gone by, both for security reasons and public expectation.
'I acknowledge there is history associated with this registration number, however it is right that we utilise the assets we have to support policing in our area.'
Ironically, the initials of current chief constable Anthony Bangham coincide with the number plate.
Former officers were outraged by the sale and have urged the Police and Crime Commissioner to have a rethink.
Retired Worcester policeman Paul Yarrington said: 'It's like selling the crown jewels really. It's a bit of police history.
'Thousands of officers, if you asked them what AB 1 was, they could say it's the chief's car. I was disgusted when I saw it for sale.
'There's at least 19 cars I know it's been on. There's no sense of history now. I get the feeling the force is alienating itself against the public.'
Vehicle registration was introduced in 1903 and AB 1 was first plate issued in Worcestershire in 1908.
John Cherry, director of regplates.com, said: 'AB 1 is a bit special because it's never come up for sale before.
'It's a piece of motoring history and I would expect it to go for in the region of £250,000.
'It is an original issue which puts another 25 per cent on the value - there will be a lot of interest in it.'
More Britons are personalizing their car number plates than ever before, according to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). In the past year, the Treasury made a record total of £102 million — £15 million more than 2014-2015 from an estimated 335,000 registration plates purchased by drivers in the U.K.
The DVLA started selling personalised number plates in 1990, with just 77,745 purchased between 1995-96 — four times less than today. At present, the DVLA boasts 47 million plates on offer to drivers across the country, which can be bought online or at auctions.
The DVLA says almost 335,000 registrations were sold in the last year – more than four times the figure in the mid-Nineties.
A spokesman for the AA welcomed the news, saying: “It puts a smile on people’s faces and raises money for the exchequer – what’s there to complain about?
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