AFTER 110 years of service in Enniskillen the motor tax office has finally closed its doors to the people of Fermanagh.
On Thursday July 17 all the Driver and Vehicle Agency offices in Northern Ireland closed, with operations now being delivered by the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea.
Motorists who need to tax or register their vehicles now must do so either online or at a post office.
Kate Charity, Manager of the Enniskillen office, based in the County Buildings in East Bridge Street told the Herald how 40 customers had to be turned away on Friday. Speaking on Monday afternoon she explained that a further 16 people had also been sent away.
“They were told they had to go the post office and weren’t too happy. Some of them didn’t even know we were closed.”
Kate explained the emotional scenes when the offices closed to the public for the last time.
“Everybody was very down because everybody here really liked their job dealing with the public and the buzz of it. It is a total letdown and it is sad the place has closed. I don’t think the reality has hit home yet.”
In total four permanent jobs have gone from the DVA office, but thankfully all have been successfully relocated.
Kate and two other female staff successfully interviewed for jobs in the planning office ,also in the County Buildings and start on July 28, while a male member of staff has started in the Blue Badge Unit, Castle Barracks, Wellington Place, Enniskillen.
Two other temporary staff have also found new roles in the Housing executive and Vehicle Test Centre, with only one temporary member of staff waiting to be transferred.
“It is fantastic, we’re so lucky that all the permanent staff here have been sorted.”
The loss of the motor tax office will leave a gap in Enniskillen town centre and Kate admitted it is with a heavy heart she leaves her position.
“Looking at old records it really started in January 1904 and now it is 2014, 110 years later. So many people have worked in the office, even temporary staff. It gave an opportunity to the people; the temporary ones, to give them experience and now they’re not going to have that.”
Such was the service provided the office staff were rewarded for their hard work from those in the local community.
“One customer came in the Friday before we closed and went up to the Jolly Sandwich and got two big trays of sandwiches and traybakes and arrived in at lunch time. Some of the garages bought flowers, we had chocolates, apple tarts and vouchers. We went out for dinner at the Westville Hotel and the garages paid for that. The reaction has been unbelievable.”
Looking through the records Kate added that the first vehicle registration number in Fermanagh from 1904 was ‘IL 1’, with the last to come from the Enniskillen office that of ‘MIG 8999’.
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