Last year I asked the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to consider arrangements for delivering practical car driving tests from premises other than traditional driving test centres such as local authority buildings or leisure centres to provide a more local service for candidates. On 27 March 2012 I announced to the House the next steps of that programme. I also informed the House that we would be seeking public and private organisations to work in partnership with the DSA to identify and provide locations from which the practical car test could be delivered.
I am pleased to report that real progress has been made and there are proposals being developed for partnerships with Halfords Group PLC and Mantra Learning Ltd. Subject to working agreements being finalised and suitable premises with driving test routes being identified, driving tests should be delivered, in the locations I have already announced, from premises of these organisations 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 also being explored and there have also been discussions with several universities.
Significantly this use of property will be provided at no cost to DSA. Tests will continue to be conducted by DSA examiners.
DSA will evaluate the success of these arrangements and I will keep the House informed.