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The DVLA closed down the majority of their offices in 2013 when it was decided that a centralised location would be more productive cost-wise and a higher level of technology could be used to provide the best customer service possible. The DVLA Theale office was situated in Reading and was amongst the 39 offices that were shut down all over the country due to agency cuts. Most issues that were once dealt with face to face in an office were now moved online or to the local post office, where business ensued as normal. However, personalised registration plates still required a face to face service, meaning customers would now have to travel to Swansea, the location of the DVLA headquarters.
When the government decided on the closure of many DVLA offices, the news spread and people feared for their jobs. At the time of closure, local office DVLA Theale employed 23 workers. Whilst roads minister Mike Penning was first to say that changing the DVLA office to a centralised location was the best way in providing customer service at any time of day, the reality was that 23 people in Reading’s local office would lost their jobs. It was reported that DVLA’s chief executive Simon Tse has said that the move was necessary so that the well known driving agency could move into the 21st century. Like many other offices, a protest was staged when the closures were announced, with protesters arguing that the service provided by DVLA local offices was ‘highly prized’ and would have a great impact if closed down. The day of the strikes affected the DVLA massively as it was unable to continue business as usual, the strikes took place on 28th December 2012.
Theale House, as the old DVLA site was known, was a contemporary office building with two floors. It is currently not being used for anything, but we have spoken to an old administrative officer that was employed in the building as he re-lived what it was like to work there. Paul Gregory, now working in his local Job Centre Plus said: ‘the DVLA office was a nice, friendly office to work in. When we were told the offices were being shut we were all devastated and concerned about losing our jobs. The DVLA did offer to relocate us to a different office, but that didn’t fit my circumstances so I decided in a career change.’
DVLA Theale Office Location
DVLA Registered Office, Building B, Theale House, Brunel Road, Theale, Reading, RG7 4AQ
The location of the new DVLA office is 1 Sandringham Park, Ground Floor East, Swansea Vale, Llansamlet, SA6 8AJ.