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Many of the issues with cherished plate transfers are not helped by the slow processing times at the DVLA.
However, it does appear that the DVLA have taken this on board and are digitalising the process which should go some way to alleviate some of the issues we routinely find ourselves advising on:
Link to DVLA Digitalisation of the retention of personalised plates
You will note from the above link that from 9 March 2015, the fee to retain a personalised plate has now been reduced from £105 to £80