30 Jun 2008 : Column 9P

30 Jun 2008 : Column 9P


Monday 30 June 2008


Driving Test Centre (Wellingborough)

The Humble Petition of residents of the Borough of Wellingborough and surrounding areas,


That the Government is forcing the closure of Wellingborough Driving Test Centre which is a loss of another public service to the local area. Wellingborough is part of the South Midlands and Milton Keynes Core Spatial Strategy and is expected to expand by between a third and a half in the next few years. Driving instructors and pupils will have to drive to Kettering Driving Test Centre, nine miles away. This will cause inconvenience, increased CO2 emissions, additional cost and annoyance to the residents of Kettering.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Transport to reconsider her decision to close Wellingborough Driving Test Centre.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c. —[Presented by Mr. Peter Bone , Official Report, 11 June 2008; Vol. 477, c. 424.] [P000210]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

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.

30 Jun 2008 : Column 10P

Wellingborough driving test centre is located within multi-occupied leasehold premises. The Agency is currently holding over on the lease which expired in January 2007. This is a 1970s building that does not offer the modern facilities that the DSA tries to provide for customers and staff wherever possible.

A new national network of driving test centres—Multi-Purpose Test Centres (MPTCs)—is being developed to facilitate European Commission Directive 2000/56/EC which introduced more demanding manoeuvres for practical driving and riding tests and meets our needs for safer driving.

DSA has considered how best to meet the needs of driving test candidates in the Wellingborough area and comply with the new European test requirements. The Agency is proposing to relocate driver and rider testing in the area to a new MPTC facility at Kettering some eight miles away. The relocation of the Wellingborough facility to the Kettering MPTC would maximise the utilisation of the facility and ensure there is no wasteful over-provision of facilities without compromising waiting service targets.

DSA service standards set for areas with a population density of between 100 and 1,250 persons per square kilometre state that most candidates should not have to travel more than twenty miles to a driving test centre. The proposed co-location of Wellingborough driving test centre at Kettering is consistent with this criterion.

The Agency's Code of Practice provides for relocation or closure to proceed without formal consultation where there is an alternative facility within the Agency's travelling distance criterion. Once the operational date of the Kettering MPTC has been established and the last date of testing of Wellingborough determined, the Agency will advise all interested parties accordingly in keeping with its Code of Practice.

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