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Learner Drivers (Brighton and Hove)

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

The Petition of driving instructors and their pupils, local to Brighton and Hove driving test centres,

Declares that the proposed closure of Brighton and Hove driving test centre by the Driving Standards Agency in order to re-locate to Burgess Hill multi-purpose test centre would be damaging, ill conceived and un-workable for the following reasons:

The Driving Standards Agency’s Code of Practice on consultations on driving test centres states that: ‘In more densely populated areas of the country where the population is equal to or greater than 1, 250 persons per square kilometre the practical test centres should be located so that most customers travel no more than 7 miles to a DTC’. In the Brighton area the population density is 3,023 persons per square kilometre, nearly two and a half times the level needed for centres to be located so that most customers travel less than seven miles. The consultation paper suggests that the distance from Burgess Hill to Brighton is only ten miles. The distance “as the Crow flies” is well over ten miles from Brighton sea front and by real roads nearly sixteen miles, well over double the Agency's recommended distance.

Burgess Hill offers nowhere near the same complexity of road layouts that Brighton and Hove does, therefore the driving tests carried out there will not support the Government's aim to improve the standard of driver training.

The driving test traffic from around 40 test routes from the Brighton and Hove centres will be combined with traffic from clients living in areas of mid Sussex onto just 12 routes. With the added traffic from pupils practising to familiarise themselves with the area, local traffic congestion will be intolerable and the efficient running of driving test centres highly unlikely. E.g. there is just one crossroads controlled by traffic lights. If all the tests are to assess performance at this point, and if each learner practises the junction three times before taking the test during working hours, then there will be one learner car at this junction approx every 90 seconds.

The environmental impact of the extended travel should be taken into account. E.g. approximately 75 pupils a day will use Burgess Hill instead of Brighton and Hove. They will travel 20 miles extra each time on approximately 5 trips to Burgess Hill to practise and take the test = 93,600 visits per annum = 1,872,00 extra miles per annum. At 139g CO2 per KM (e.g. Vauxhall Corsa 1.2) this represents almost 419 tonnes of unnecessary CO2 emissions per annum.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Transport to reject the Driving Standards Agency’s request to close Brighton Driving Test Centre and Hove Driving Test Centre in order to re-locate to Burgess Hill Multi-purpose Test Centre and insist that at least one driving test centre in the city of Brighton and Hove is retained.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Ms Celia Barlow .] [P000294]