MP’s anger over closure of Blackpool driving theory test centre

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A Blackpool MP has demanded answers after the closure of one of the town’s driving test centres was announced.

 

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard has written to the authorities to demand that the theory test centre at the Blackpool Technology Park in Bispham be retained.

When it closes early next month along with five others including the Southport centre, learner drivers will face a 34 mile round trip to the nearest theory centre in Preston.

The DVSA recently announced changed to the network of test centres across the country including the closure of the Blackpool facility in Hawking Place.

Fylde coast learners will face a trip to Preston to do their theory testsFylde coast learners will face a trip to Preston to do their theory tests

It said the total number of centres in England will increase from 180 to 202, which it claimed would make it “easier” for learners to get on the roads, particularly as there was a back-log left over from Covid lockdowns. But Lancashire has lost out in the shake-up making it it more difficult for potential drivers.

Mr Maynard has asked the DVSA to justify its decision and made clear to the chief executive the importance of retaining a centre in Blackpool as its closure will have a significant impact on local learners.

Paul said: “Learner drivers face a challenging times, with backlogs for those wishing to take their practical test.

“I have previously expressed my frustration to the DVSA over the delays facing learner drivers, many of whom need to pass their test to be able to work, attend training or college or support their families

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul MaynardBlackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard

“I remain of the view that not enough is being done to ensure tests are available to all who need them.

“The news about the theory test centre is a further blow for local people.”

Following the announcement Paul wrote to Loveday Ryder, chief executive of the DVSA to make clear the closure was not appropriate. He is angry her response has not answered key questions about the decision.

He said: “The DVSA has explained to me its restructuring plans.

“What it has not done is justified the closure of the Blackpool test centre.

“It is not acceptable to ask learner drivers to travel to Preston, at their own expense. The DVSA’s justification to me that candidates could take the train does not take into account the journey many will need to take to reach a station. To drive to Preston, for any learner, would require the assistance of a family member or friend.”

“When the number of test centres is being increased it seems inexplicable to me that Blackpool’s own theory centre should be shutting.”

Paul now intends to challenge Ministers on the closure of the centre which will impact hundreds of candidates as well as driving instructors.

He said: “Learners have faced months and months of disruption and now face further obstacles before they are even able to take their practical test.

“This is not good enough and I will be making that clear to the Government.”