09/02/2022 - Permalink

DVSA rejects Council Leader’s plea to keep Whitchurch driving test centre open

Related topics: Community / Partner organisations

The Leader of Shropshire Council says she is ‘hugely disappointed’ after an appeal to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to ‘urgently reconsider’ the closure of Whitchurch driving test centre was rejected – but has vowed to continue to fight the decision.

Councillor Lezley Picton wrote to Nick Bitel, non-executive chair of DVSA, last month after plans to close the test centre on 11 April 2022 were announced.

Follow this link to read the letter in full – Lezley Picton letter to DVSA

In her letter she registered Shropshire Council’s strong objection to the closure, writing:

“Removing this test centre and forcing residents of the central and north east areas of north Shropshire to take driving tests in other towns, some potentially in other county areas, we feel is not in the best interest of local learner drivers or the driving instructors who serve the local area.

“[This decision] means that the local community will be disproportionally penalised financially in having to not just travel to an alternative test site, but pay for instruction in those alternative areas to aid their chance of success.

“In many ways this decision is to the detriment of our residents and our businesses, especially our base of well-regarded driving instructors. We are especially concerned about the impact on our young people and this closure undermines our efforts to retain our base of talented young people helping them into local employment and setting them up for success in life.”

However, in his response Mr Bitel rejected the request, saying:

“I do appreciate how disappointed you and the residents you represent will be by this decision

“Whilst I understand your concerns about the closure… Whitchurch test centre represents poor value for money and is one of a number of centres where the lease is due to end soon, or there is another test centre nearby, which are being closed.”

Lezley Picton said:

“I’m hugely disappointed by this response which ducks most of the issues that we raised and, disappointingly, there appears to be no flexibility in the decision.

“As I said in my letter, yet again we are seeing a part of the Government withdraw services from local rural communities and adding to the inequality between cities and counties. Indeed, we consider this decision is the exact opposite of the Government’s agenda for ‘levelling up’ and addressing regional inequality.

“I also expressed my concern that DVSA did not enter into any form of local consultation or give any rationale for why this decision had been taken and asked that they urgently reconsider the decision to close this test centre. I’m very unhappy that that this request has been rejected but we will do all we can to get them to reconsider.”