Skip to main content

Driving Tests

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many driving test centres in England closed in each year since 1997; which driving test centres in England are earmarked for closure by the Driving Standards Agency; what savings have been achieved as a result of closures already implemented; and what estimate she has made of possible savings resulting from future closures. (202359)

[holding answer 29 April 2008]: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) currently operates a network of 425 driving test centres throughout Great Britain.

To facilitate the introduction of new European requirements for practical tests, alongside its existing estate DSA is developing a new national network of driving test centres. These centres, which are based on an updated design, are fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act and also support the Government's wider sustainability agenda.

In order to exploit the value of the investment in these new centres DSA have decided that, wherever possible, they will be multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs). The new centres will have appropriate facilities to conduct practical tests for learner car drivers and motorcyclists. In some cases, there will also be provision for lorry driver tests.

As an organisation which relies on test fee income for the provision of its services DSA needs to ensure that it can deliver a cost-effective service which avoids unnecessary expenditure. The provision of MPTCs is expected to cost in the region of £71 million. That cost will largely be recovered through increased fees paid by test candidates.

In order to keep those fee increases to the minimum, DSA must closely examine how it delivers its services and seek more efficiencies in the way it conducts its business. This includes reviewing existing driving test centre provision to ensure that, while the service standard is maintained, there is no wasteful over-provision of facilities. Regrettably this does mean that some existing driving test centres have to close.

Since 1997 the following driving test centres in England have been closed:

Driving test centre (DTC)

Date closed

Annual saving1(£)

Alvaston LGV

1997

2

Sheffield Manor Top

1997

2

Farnborough

29 September 1998

2

Surbiton

3 June 2000

2

New Ilford

27 July 2000

2

Southfields

12 September 2000

2

New Southgate

15 December 2000

2

Teddington

15 June 2001

2

Truro

17 January 2002

2

Leamington Spa

28 February 2002

2

Stratford Upon Avon

8 April 2002

2

Croydon LGV

14 January 2004

13,846.00

Coventry Holyhead Road

26 January 2004

11,237.00

Coventry Mason Road

26 January 2004

7,643.00

Wallington Old Town Hall

31 January 2005

2,731.00

Birmingham Quinton

31 May 2006

25,026.00

Sidcup Craybrook

15 June 2007

18,784.00

Thornaby

27 August 2007

19,176.00

Winchmore Hill

31 August 2007

6,588.00

Ipswich LGV

15 September 2007

637.00

Total

137,431.00

1 Due to the recording system used by DSA, details of savings cannot be provided for driving test centres which closed prior to 2004. 2 Unavailable.

Since September 2007 the following driving test centres have closed and been relocated as a result of the multi-purpose test centre project:

DTC

Annual saving1 (£)

Darlington

22,662.71

Exeter

125,361.77

Gainsborough

3,646.20

Gateshead

14,628.36

Gloucester

36,128.30

Hessle

17,151.20

Hull

10,431.25

Ipswich Woodbridge

32,550.12

Rotherham

18,843.02

Scunthorpe

10,017.88

Shrewsbury

14,901.14

St Helens

9,445.22

Total

315,767.17

1 Due to the recording system used by DSA, details of savings cannot be provided for driving test centres which closed prior to 2004.

The following driving test centres have been earmarked for closure and the anticipated savings from their closure are shown alongside; most of these closures will result from the implementation of the multi-purpose driving test centre project:

DTC

Potential savings (£)

Bexleyheath

13,266.37

Blackburn

18,432.59

Burton On Trent

17,413.22

Carlisle

17,665.86

Chester

11,453.44

Gedling

8,615.90

Gillingham

36,599.27

Herne Bay

9,283.62

Kings Lynn

7,869.21

Leicester Welford Road

21,369.51

Lincoln

15,772.57

Minehead

1,806.22

Norwich

10,499.00

Peterborough

31,712.91

Plymouth

53,084.30

Shirley

21,402.05

Southend

22,062.47

Spalding

4,660.00

Swindon

8,700.53

Taunton

36,461.65

Trowbridge

13,782.05

Warrington

24,150.62

Washwood Heath

13,559.31

West Bridgford

21,169.43

Wisbech

6,796.31

Wolverhampton

7,909.43

Total

455,497.84

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate her Department has made of the cost to the public purse of changing the format of the driving test. (206060)

Our aim is to develop more effective and efficient training and testing arrangements to improve road safety without increasing the average cost of learning to drive which we estimate currently to be some £1,500. A partial Impact Assessment which includes cost estimates for various elements of our proposals was published alongside the Driving Standards Agency's “Learning to Drive” consultation paper and these can be accessed via the DSA website www.dsa.gov.uk.

Actual costs would depend upon the decisions we reach in light of the comments from consultees plus the research and trialling work we are undertaking in parallel with the wide-ranging consultation exercise. We shall publish an updated Impact Assessment alongside our implementation plans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the longest distance is that learner drivers are expected to travel to take a driving test; (206249)

(2) what estimate she has made of the size of population that each driving test centre should serve.

Ministers have agreed the following target service levels for the distances most candidates are required to travel to take practical car driving tests:

Population density

Distance criteria

>=1,250/km2

No more than 7 miles

101-1,249/km2

No more than 20 miles

0-100/km2

No more than 30 miles

For practical motorcycle riding tests the target is that most customers should be able to reach a motorcycle testing facility within 45 minutes, travelling no more than 20 miles.