We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Another kick in the teeth for Wiltshire young drivers

June 20, 2011 3:37 PM
By CRTDTC release

The Driving Standards Agency has announced that the Theory Test centre in Bath will close on August 31st because it doesn't make enough profit. Young drivers will have to go to Bristol or Swindon to take their theory tests. Ten other centres across the country will also close as the DSA, which has a monopoly on the driving test business, continues to minimise its costs and its service to customers.

Here's a release from the Campaign to Re-open Trowbridge Driving Test Centre:

"We are flabbergasted and furious at the shock news of the closure of the DSA Theory Test Centre in Bath.

One of the main reasons for the fall in demand for Theory Tests at this centre is undisputably the ill-advised closure of Trowbridge Practical Driving Test Centre in August 2008. Figures provided by the DSA in response to a Freedom of Information Request have clearly demonstrated that the number of Practical Driving Tests being undertaken by people living in Trowbridge, Westbury and Frome have fallen by a third. We are even more incensed by what we see to be the inability of the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), the Government Agency responsible for theory and practical driver testing, and Mike Penning MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport with responsibility for the DSA, to make tangible progress on the reinstatement of driver testing in Trowbridge and by their failure to achieve joined up Government within the general auspices of the Department for Transport (DfT).

We are aware that Mike Penning MP and the DSA are undertaking a "Taking Testing to the Customer" initiative and Dr Andrew Murrison MP advised as recently as 19th May 2011, following a brief discussion with Mike Penning MP, that the likelihood of practical driver testing returning to Trowbridge "sounds positive" and that "(he hoped) there will be announcement soon". We have been awaiting such an announcement from Penning since early April 2011 when areas elsewhere in the UK, including Warrington and Louth (Leicestershire), were being led to believe driver testing would be reintroduced following DTC closures. We have also been working closely with Wiltshire and Trowbridge Town Councils and have put three innovative and cost effective Trowbridge premises proposals to the DSA for consideration.

In the West and North Wiltshire areas we have had to fight hard for over three years for the reinstatement of a much needed driver testing facility in Trowbridge and to prevent the DSA from temporarily closing Chippenham DTC for 6 weeks between February and April 2011. The announcement of the closure of Bath Theory Test Centre, which provides a valuable service for not only people in Bath but also for many people living in Trowbridge, Frome and Westbury, who have already been hard hit financially to the tune of £200 to £400 to pass their practical test in Chippenham, is yet another burden for and insult to people wanting to learn to drive and the driver training industry in this area.

The DSA's decision to close Bath Theory Test Centre is totally ill advised and has not been properly thought through. If, as we have been led to believe along with driving instructor colleagues elsewhere in the UK, practical driver testing is to return to areas across the UK including Trowbridge, the demand for theory testing in Bath, the nearest theory test centre to areas previously served by Trowbridge DTC, along with the demand for practical driving tests would increase substantially. This decision by the DSA to close Bath Theory Test Centre, as the result of falling demand for Theory Tests, further demonstrates the considerable impact of the closure of Trowbridge Driving Test Centre. Also, if what Dr Andrew Murrison MP has advised is correct, does this not show disjointed Government within the DfT, its agencies and its Ministers and a total lack of understanding together with a blinkered, short term and self serving view by these people of the impact of their policies and decisions?

The situation with regards to both theory and practical testing in the Bath, West and North Wiltshire areas is getting totally out of hand to the detriment of people wanting to learn to drive, their families and the driver training industry. We call on Mike Penning MP to announce immediately whether or not driver testing will be reinstated in Trowbridge, if so by when and to confirm that Bath Theory Test Centre will remain open for at least a year following any reinstatement of driver testing in Trowbridge, not to close Bath Theory Test Centre after this time in the event that the demand for Theory Testing at the centre increases noticeably and that the DSA will actively seek to ensure that a theory testing facility remains in Bath.

To help the campaign, below is a letter which you can adapt and send to your MP:

YOUR ADDRESS

DATE

FAO MIKE PENNING MP (Via Andrew Murrison/ David Heath/Don Foster/ Duncan Hames MP - select yours)

Dear Mr Penning,

BATH THEORY TEST CENTRE & TROWBRIDGE DRIVING TEST CENTRE (DTC)

I wish to express my anger at the proposed closure of Bath Theory Test Centre on 31st August 2011.

One of the main reasons for the fall in demand for theory tests at this centre is undoubtedly the ill-advised closure of Trowbridge Driving Test Centre in August 2008. Figures provided by the DSA in response to a Freedom of Information Request clearly demonstrate that the number of practical driving tests being undertaken by people living in Trowbridge, Westbury and Frome has fallen by a third and the closure of Trowbridge DTC would have undoubtedly had a similar impact on the demand for theory tests.

In the West and North Wiltshire areas we've had to fight hard for over three years for the reinstatement of a much needed driver testing facility in Trowbridge and to prevent the DSA from temporarily closing Chippenham DTC for 6 weeks earlier this year. The announcement of the closure of Bath Theory Test Centre is yet another burden for and insult to people wanting to learn to drive and the driver training industry in the Mendip, Bath & North East Somerset and West & North Wiltshire areas which, if this latest decision is implemented, will only have one driver testing facility located in Chippenham.

I CALL ON YOU TO REINSTATE PRACTICAL DRIVER TESTING IN TROWBRIDGE AS A PRIORITY AND TO REVERSE THE DECISION TO CLOSE BATH THEORY TEST CENTRE.

Yours sincerely,