Comic’s car fees threat

Peter Yates with the restored Rolls Royce, once owned by Eric Morecambe.

Peter Yates with the restored Rolls Royce, once owned by Eric Morecambe.

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Car lover Peter Yates rescued Eric Morecambe’s Rolls Royce from the scrapyard at the 11th hour then spent two years getting it back on the road.

But now Mr Yates says Eric’s pride and joy could be forced back into the garage for good by plans to introduce crippling licence fees for wedding cars.

Mr Yates, who runs a wedding car hire company in Carnforth, says he could even go out of business altogether if the Government pushes through the controversial law changes.

The Law Commission has been consulting on the plans just weeks after the beautiful silver Rolls, known as ‘Eric’, became available for weddings.

“I’m really upset over it...it’s crazy,” said Mr Yates.

“The expense would far outweigh using Eric’s car if these laws come in.

“Wedding cars are part of our heritage, part of being British.

“They are trying to bring in operator’s licences, which would cost me £300 per car. I have three. There aren’t enough weddings to make it pay.

“They also want to bring in drivers’ licences and medicals for drivers, which will put people off. You wouldn’t want to put yourself through that just to earn a few quid on a Sunday.”

‘Eric’, owned by the late comic between 1971 and 1974, was recently used as a wedding car for the first time by Dave Myles, president of the Eric Morecambe Appreciation Society, and his new wife.

It was Mr Myles who first tracked the Rolls down to a scrapyard in Shrewsbury, before Mr Yates bought it just two weeks before it was due to be scrapped.

“It took me two years to restore it and it’s been a real privilege,” said Mr Yates.

“To think, Eric used to sit in it and drive it.

“The old car had a special ash tray built in to the dashboard for his pipe and I’ve reproduced that.”

Mr Yates has been backed by David Morris MP, who tabled a motion of support in the Commons.

The Government has proposed to remove an exemption from wedding car companies so they will need to apply for the same licences as private hire operators such as taxi firms.