Aug 3 2012 by Sharon Liptrott, Dumfries Standard Friday
CAMPAIGNERS aiming to protect vintage wedding car firms are hoping a petition launched at Gretna Green will be a runaway success.
Law Commission proposals could sound the death knell of a wedding tradition enjoyed for decades at the region’s marriage mecca and drive car owners out of business.
If the plans to bring the businesses under the private hire umbrella get the go-ahead, owners claim the cost of running a vintage vehicle for hire could be more than what it makes in a year.
Up to 4,000 couples tie the knot each year in Gretna parish, where the wedding industry is worth £21 million to the economy and supports around 500 jobs.
A key part of the romance for many brides is being driven to their wedding ceremony in a vintage or classic car.
But it’s under threat from the proposed changes, which would end the exemptions wedding and funeral cars enjoy from licensing provisions which apply to businesses such as taxis.
The new legislation would introduce a variety of changes such as rigorous vehicle tests and a huge hike in costs.
A petition has been set up in the World Famous Blacksmith’s Shop Centre against the proposals.
Martin Hall, from Gretna Wedding Cars, said: “If this legislation comes in the costs would be so prohibitive that I may have to think about selling up.
“This change would kill 90 per cent of the vintage wedding car business. A lot of these people do not do it for money, but for love.”
Longtown-based Silver Lady Wedding Car Hire was set up by vintage car enthusiast 71-year-old Eddie Murray 25 years ago.
The family business is contracted for weddings at Smith’s Hotel and the Blacksmith Shop Centre, Gretna Green.
Together with daughter Heather Graham, Eddie has 13 cars which are used for wedding hire which mostly pays for their upkeep.
Heather said: “Under the proposals, not only would we have to get a private hire operator’s licence, but each car would have to go through a test six times more expensive than an MoT.”
The cost to her family could be between £8,000 and £12,500 a year.
Objections have to be with the Law Commission by September 10.