A grandfather and former police driver with almost 40 years experience behind the wheel has been ordered to retake his test – after DVLA officials lost his licence.
Sidney Iliffe, 56, sent off his paper and photo-card licences to register his new address when he moved house but claims he was sent back a provisional one by mistake.
He wrote to the government agency to complain about the mix-up but was told there were no records of him ever passing a test, which he took aged 18 in 1978.
Now the former police driver, who has a clean licence, must be accompanied by a fully-qualified motorist every time he gets on the road, and is forbidden from going on motorways.
Security guard Sid, from Tamworth, Staffs., said: “When it came through I laughed and thought someone’s messed up here.
“I called them up and explained, but then they said they’ve got no record of me ever having had a full licence.
“I didn’t know what to say. I explained I’ve been driving for almost 40 years, and they just said ‘It’s not on the records, the records are never wrong.’
“I was working in Stafford at the time, but work said I was driving there illegally so I lost my job.
“I’ve also been threatened with prosecution after the police pulled me over when I was driving alone.
“I would urge everyone to take a picture of their full licence, because this is an absolute nightmare.”
Sid sent of his licences so register a change of address when he moved from his home in Birmingham to Tamworth with his fiance Jeanne, 52, in April.
Sid, who passed a course for driving at high speed with West Midlands Police, has now been forced to sell his Yamaha FJ1200 bike and replace it with a less powerful Lexmoto 125cc which he is covered by his provisional licence.
He said: “I’ve tried everything. I went back to my old police station, but I worked for them 14 years ago and they only keep records for seven years.
“I’ve had to retake my test for my bike, and all the instructors were laughing at how ridiculous it was that I was retaking my test – but they said there was no way round it.
I passed it but I have to take another test to let me drive anything more powerful than a 125cc.
“It’s been very frustrating considering I’ve worked as a driver most of my adult life.
“Since this has happened, my partner’s looked into it and this has happened to loads of people.
“We read about one girl who sent off for a provisional and got a full licence back.
“I’ve had to sell my Renault Scenic and get a Hyundai Amica, because the insurance is so much more for a learner.
“I start a new job as a security guard next week, but it’s taken me forever to find somewhere close enough for me to get to on my 125cc.
“It costs about £600 all in to take your test these days, so I’ve been saving up and hoping they’ll admit their mistake.
“But it looks like I’m going to have to take it now. I wouldn’t mind, I just wish they’d hold their hands up even if I still had to take it.”
His partner, retired nurse Jeanne, said: “I am completely reliant on Sid because I suffer from osteoarthritis and although technically I can drive I am in constant agony.
“Sid was stopped by police who said there was a problem with insurance, but that was a mistake by the insurance company.
“But after they stopped him they realised he didn’t have a full licence, and so we don’t know what’s going to happen with that now.
“It’s just so frustrating, we can’t prove anything even though we know he can drive and everyone else can. He’s been driving for 38 years.”
Sid’s local MP Christopher Pincher is now investigating the issue.
A DVLA spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear about the unfortunate circumstances Mr Iliffe finds himself in.
“We have looked into his case and have been in contact with him on a number of occasions to discuss his concerns.
“We will be happy to reinvestigate if Mr Iliffe can provide further evidence of his entitlement to drive.”