Trowbridge Driving Test Centre setting a trend
Waiting time for test appointments is up to 16 weeks at Trowbridge and 10 weeks at Westbury. The Driving Standards Agency - the national quango with a monopoly on test provision - has a target waiting time of 9 weeks maximum.
The DSA is blaming its customers - allegedly people from outside of Trowbridge are using the town's test centre, instead of going to Chippenham or Swindon as the DSA thinks they should.
Whereas a normal business in the fortunate position of having too many customers would increase capacity to cope with demand, quangos don't think like that. The DSA is planning to restrict the number of examiners in Trowbridge to just two. Its logic is that this will drive up waiting lists which will drive candidates away which will reduce waiting lists.
Trowbridge test centre operates on Mondays and Tuesdays from Longfields Community Centre (pictured).
However government ministers are taking a different approach and looking to extend the 'outreach' test centre programme. In March, Road Safety Minister Mike Penning announced that DSA would be looking to extend taking testing to the customer to 21 locations in five additional areas. He also explained that the agency was seeking public and private organisations to work in partnership to identify and provide locations from which the car practical test could be delivered.
On 10 July, the Minister announced that proposals are being developed for partnerships with Halfords Group PLC and Mantra Learning Limited. Subject to working agreements being finalised and premises with suitable driving test routes being identified, it is expected that DSA will begin testing at those 21 locations in the near future.
These will be non exclusive arrangements and DSA may, in future, consider other partnering agreements to provide premises which meet its criteria. Local agreements with the Fire and Rescue Service, particularly in areas not otherwise covered, are being explored and there have been discussions with several universities.