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Driving Test Centre (Spalding)

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

The Petition of the people of South Holland and the Deepings and others,

Declares that due to the closure of Spalding Driving test Centre the cost of learning to drive will increase for the residents of South Holland, as they will be forced to travel to Peterborough. This will further increase the CO2 emissions and the carbon footprint as a result of the extra miles travelled.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Transport to reverse the closure of Spalding Driving Test Centre.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. John Hayes, Official Report, 22 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 25P .] [P000259]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 9 September 2008:

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has a statutory responsibility for setting standards for theory and practical driving tests and assessing the standard of driving at the practical driving test.

DSA is a self-financing organisation, reliant upon test fee income for the provision of its services. This means the Agency needs to ensure it can deliver a cost-effective service to avoid unnecessary costs, which would have to be recovered from its customers via the driving test fee.

Consequently, when the opportunity arises the location, size and number of driving test centres (DTC) are closely scrutinised, taking into account:

the continued operational suitability of the location;

the facilities it offers;

the customer base;

the proximity of these and any other suitable alternative centres; and

the creation of the national network of Multi-Purpose Test Centres (MPTCs) linked to the introduction of new EU requirements for the motorcycling test in Autumn 2008.

The acquisition of the Peterborough MPTC presented the Agency with the opportunity to review its service provision in the Spalding area. DSA has a service standard that most practical test customers should not have to travel more than our travel distance criteria of 7, 20 or 30 miles depending on the population density of the area. The criterion appropriate to the Spalding area is 30 miles. Peterborough MPTC is about 20 miles from Spalding.

In addition to Peterborough, alternative local test centres are located at:

Boston DTC (approx 14 miles from Spalding);

Wisbech DTC (approx 19 miles);

Kings Lynn MPTC (approx 27 miles); and

Grantham DTC (approx 29 miles).

The closure of the Spalding DTC will maximise the utilisation of these facilities and will ensure there is no wasteful over-provision of facilities in the area. These centres will be suitably resourced so that waiting time targets for car and motorcycle tests will not be compromised.

It should not be necessary for learner drivers to travel from Spalding to test centre locations for every driving lesson unless it is for pre-test familiarisation. This should minimise any additional costs, the environmental impact of those journeys and reduce the time spent in traffic. Experience should be gained on a variety of roads as part of the lesson plan whilst candidates are accompanied by an experienced instructor, rather than as an unaccompanied novice driver.

In a further move to cut carbon emissions from driving, the practical driving test will feature advice on Eco-Safe Driving from September 2008. Eco-safe driving is a recognised and proven style of driving that contributes to road safety whilst reducing fuel consumption and emissions.