Vehicle number plate stirs up controversy

By Sairah Masud

A UNIQUE number plate that is being sold at a private auction for an estimated £1 million
has caused outrage among some members of the Hindu community who want it available
for purchase to the general public.

The 2018 pre-released plate, which reads SR1 8APS, is being sold privately for the first
time in the UK with no minimum reserve.

BAPS, an abbreviation for Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha, is a leading charitable organisation. It is the name behind the Swaminarayan temples in India, the UK
and US, among other countries – the Hindu temple in Neasden, north London, is a BAPS
Swaminarayan mandir.

The auction for SR1 8APS (which reads SRI BAPS) is likely to break the current record of
the biggest sale for a number plate of £518,000.

A flyer, advertising the sale of the plate and only circulated among an exclusive group of
individuals and organisations, states that the auction is by “invite to offer only” and not yet
open to the general public.

Only if the number plate fails to sell at the private event will it be auctioned to the general
public at a later date next year.

One member from the Hindu community said: “A number of followers of the Shri BAPS
said it was unfair, as there are many who can afford it but are unable to put in an offer.

“I myself have been trying for the last week to submit an offer, but have been refused. This
is not fair, it’s discrimination. I have the money, so why can’t I buy it? Who has been invited to offer? Why do they have this privilege and we don’t?”

The vehicle registration number is the only one that can ever be formed using the combinations of letters and numbers by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

In 2015, an Indian businesswoman broke the previously-held record after buying a number plate reading KR15 HNA after the Hindu deity Krishna, for £233,000 although the bid was open to the public.

A DVLA spokesperson said: “The personalised number plate was sold by the DVLA some time ago so we’re no longer involved – it is now a private sale. It is up to (the seller) how
they resell that number plate, whether they choose to have a private sale or an auction – it
is up to them once they own that registration.”

Eastern Eye contacted the seller via the telephone number on the flyer, but he declined to comment on why the auction was by invitation only, stating the matter was ‘confidential’.