14 Lower Saxony cities today called for the reintroduction of their old license plates. The 14 cities in favor of reintroducing the old license plates include Alfeld (Leine), Bad Gandersheim, Braunlage, Bremervorde, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Duderstadt, Einbeck, Hann. Munden, Neustadt am Rubenberge, Norden, Otterndorf, Rinteln, Soltau and Syke. Many license plates were abolished during the 1977 territorial reform. If local authorities have their way, drivers should be able to choose between the current and old license plates, said Jurgen Tiemann of the Lower Saxony City Council. Representatives of the cities concerned in Hanover emphasized that having its own license plate is a cost-effective and supra-regionally effective instrument for city marketing. In addition, many citizens felt that their old license plates were part of their local identity.
The municipalities’ demand is backed up by a study conducted by Heilbronn University, according to which 76.4 percent of people in Lower Saxony are in favor of reinstating the abolished license plates. "This is the roughest agreement we could find in a western German state", said research manager Ralf Borchert. Nationwide, the number of supporters averages 73 percent. In the East Frisian town of Norden, as many as 96 percent of the residents surveyed were in favor of allowing the old license plates to be used again. Therefore, there must be the possibility to freely choose between the current license plate number "AUR", which stands for the district of Aurich, and the old license plate "NOR" to vote, said Norden’s Burgermeister Barbara Schlag. "The citizens want it that way and it does not take much effort to fulfill this wish. We can prove burger friendliness in a relatively simple way here."
In fact, it is currently becoming apparent that the Federal Ministry of Transport will in principle allow the states to reintroduce the old license plates, said Jurgen Tiemann. A legal regulation is to be introduced in the Bundesrat (upper house of parliament) in the spring of 2012. The state of Lower Saxony also supports the local authorities’ project. The prerequisite, however, is the prior approval of the districts, which in some cases has already been given. One incentive is that the registration offices can expect to receive up to 90 euros each time a vehicle is re-registered. "This will be a deal for the counties", said Burgermeisterin Schlag. But another aspect was also mentioned at the meeting in Hanover: "We will have a lot more fun again on the autobahn guessing", said Hans-Gunther Scharf from the city of Alfeld.