Police warning for Lord Provost over illegal number plates

IT is perhaps the most recognisable set of number plates in Edinburgh and it happens to belong to one of the city's more high-profile residents.

But Lord Provost George Grubb has been told to change his S0 number plates or face the long arm of the law.

Council staff have been forced to hurriedly replace the number plates on the official Lexus after a sharp-eyed member of the public spotted that it was illegal because the S and the 0 were too close together.

Antony Jack, 57, from Craigmount, contacted the police over the error but insisted he was no number plate nerd.

He said: "I was walking into the City Chambers when I noticed it.

"It's not that I got a tape measure out it was just very obvious. My number plate obeys the law, so why shouldn't the Lord Provost's? I think the council should have got a fixed penalty notice that would have been the icing on the cake."

Police said the spacing between the two characters on the number plates contravened current legislation and could have landed the car's owner with a fixed penalty notice.

It later emerged that the problem was caused by an error which had replaced the number plates zero with the letter "O" when it was being manufactured.

Following a swift replacement job, it was decided that there was no need for further police action.

The famous S0 number plates, which are valued at around 500,000, was created after Edinburgh's lord provost missed out on Scotland's first number plate S1 at the turn of the 20th century.

The S1 registration sold at auction last year for 400,000 and led to calls for the city council to sell off the S0 registration to raise funds for the city's coffers.

Current legislation states that there must be a 33mm space between the two sets of characters on all number plates, but on the Lord Provost's car the gap was smaller.

In a letter sent to Mr Jack, Lothian and Borders Police said 80 fixed penalty notices had been issued to drivers for "non-conforming" number plates, although stressed that general practice was just to have a quiet word.

Illegal number plates are usually found on cars with private registrations or when "boy racers" change the number plate typeface while modifying their vehicles.

A police spokesman said: "In terms of dealing with this type of offence, general police practice is to educate the motorist.

"In this instance, the owner was advised and prompt action taken to replace the number plates. The matter has been satisfactorily resolved and we would like to thank the member of the public."

A council spokeswoman said: "A typesetting error occurred when the number plate was produced for the Lord Provost's official car, with the letters S and O used instead of S and the zero.

"This caused the characters to be spaced too closely together. We're grateful to Mr Jack for spotting the fault. As soon as we were made aware of it, we ensured that it was immediately rectified."

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