114-year-old police number plate sale funds Richmondshire community projects

The registration was first used by Sir Robert Bowyer, the chief constable of the North Riding constabulary.

Communities in Richmondshire will benefit from investment in road safety improvements part-funded by the sale of the historic AJ1 vehicle registration.

The unique number plate was first used by chief constable of the North Riding constabulary, Sir Robert Bowyer in 1907.

Since then, it has been used by the North Yorkshire Police on numerous vehicles.

North Yorkshire Police chiefs decided that the AJ1 mark was better invested in supporting communities and it was sold commercially at auction in 2019.

Part of the money raised invested in improving the memorial garden at North Yorkshire Police headquarters and the remainder put into the new, one-off AJ1 Fund.

Communities, parish and town councils were invited to put forward projects which focused on improving road safety for children and young people, cyclists, motorcyclists and older road users.

There was huge demand with applications exceeding by four-times the amount available.

The panel have now awarded the £190,000 from the AJ1 Fund, and – due to the demand and standard of the bids – an additional £165,000 from other community funds was added meaning that £355,228.36 is to be invested in projects including:

26 Speed Reduction Reinforcement Hackforth & Ainderby Miers with Holtby Parish Council £2,912.00 Hambleton and Richmondshire
27 Advanced Driving skills for Young Drivers and Older Drivers Northallerton Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) group £3,136.00 Hambleton and Richmondshire
45 Richmondshire Area Motorcycle Project  (RAMP) RAMP £9,320.00 Richmondshire
46 Safer Driving Richmond School and Sixth Form College £1,074.00 Richmondshire
47 VAS North East Richmondshire Vehicle Activated Signs syndicate £6,454.00 Richmondshire
48 Summer Road Safety Training Wensleydale Bike Club £462.00 Richmondshire

A full list of the projects can be seen at www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/AJ1 where progress on the schemes should also be updated regularly.

The one-off assessment process for the bids included checks with North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways and Transportation Department to ensure viability, consultation with county councillors and a panel making final decisions made up of representatives of the 95 Alive Partnership, including the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner; North Yorkshire Police; North Yorkshire County Council; City of York Council; and Highways England.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said: “A third of a million pounds for road safety across North Yorkshire and York will make a huge difference to many communities and I look forward to seeing the impact of these 81 projects in the years ahead.

“Although the AJ1 number plate will always have a historical connection to North Yorkshire Police, the impact these schemes will have confirms why it was right to use the value of the registration mark to make a real impact on people’s lives.

“These projects will improve lives – and I am sure they will also save lives – by making our roads and the communities they pass through safer for people however they use them.”