AB 1 Police Stitch Up The Cover Up Continues
THE city's MP has criticised suggestions that the sale of an historic licence plate was a 'stitch-up'.
Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, defended the Police and Crime Commissioner's (PCC) decision to sell the 'AB 1' vehicle registration number for £160,000.
'AB 1' was the first number plate to be issued to the county and was traditionally displayed on the staff cars of Worcestershire's Chief Constables.
John Campion agreed to sell the item to former West Mercia Police Chief Constable Paul West on Tuesday, 18 July.
The deal was completed in early August and was announced on the PCC's website on Thursday, August 10.
Mr West pledged that 'AB 1' was safe in his hands but some argued that the piece of police heritage had been undersold.
The director of regplates.com, a licence plate dealer, claimed he had a client willing to pay up to £250,000 for the item.
Mr Walker said: "I think you will be aware of the suggestion that this is some sort of stitch-up, I don't think it is.
"When I was first contacted about this - before it was put up for sale - I checked in with the PCC office to understand the reason.
"This was an asset that belonged to the force that wasn't being used anymore. This was an item that was languishing. It made sense to realise the value and to invest in frontline forces.
"As MP I've looked into the question of the sale of this item and I think I have had a valid explanation. I think the crucial thing is there was a public sale process.
"Clearly, I'm not party to details of the auction process but my understanding is it was a public process and the highest bid was the one that achieved the sale."
Mr Walker supported the scrutiny process and said it was a good thing that the number plate has remained in Worcestershire with its new owner.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) received one complaint about the sale in July and forwarded it to the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel, which oversees the PCC.
The panel referred this complaint back to the IPCC and it is currently being assessed.
A spokesman for the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner said it had not seen the complaint but said it was happy to provide any assistance required.
They said: "We have been clear and consistent on the sale of AB1. The registration was advertised and marketed for more than a month.
"Anybody was welcome to submit a bid during that period, and it was sold to the highest bidder.
"Full details of the sale have been disclosed on the PCC’s website and can be viewed at any time, including numerous extensive and appropriate responses to Freedom of Information requests.
"Some elements of these requests asked for information which cannot be legally released."
A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission said: “We have received a referral from the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel, which we are currently assessing.
"We will take a decision whether an IPCC investigation is required. We are not currently investigating the matter.”
Malvern town councillor Clive Smith submitted a complaint about the sale to the IPCC in August.
'AB 1' was issued to Worcestershire in 1903.
The UK in particular has a relationship with personalised number plates. According to estimates by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency), the UK reported an excess of two billion pounds in tax revenue from tax auctions over the past 25 years. As they are keen to state, an expression of interest in a particular plate by three people or more is enough to push the price of that Reg plate through the roof. It has also been documented that the buyers let their hearts take control of their heads when they bid for these plates.
Personalised number plate auctions are constantly rewriting the record books with regard to the highest price paid for a plate. The record currently stands at £518,000 which is quite impressive. The prices of these Regplates does not seem to be slowing down either.
Of particular interest is the recent auction of the highly-hyped 250 C Reg plate which sold for £21,500. This is a clear indication that the expectations for the prices of personalised number plates will continue to increase.
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