FENLAND: Barclay joins campaign to halt possible closure of Wisbech driving test centre
STEVE Barclay, the Prospective Parliamentary Conservative Candidate for North East Cambridgeshire, has taken up the campaign to persuade the Driving Standards Agency not to close down the driving test centre in Wisbech. Mr Barclay met with the Wisbech and
STEVE Barclay, the Prospective Parliamentary Conservative Candidate for North East Cambridgeshire, has taken up the campaign to persuade the Driving Standards Agency not to close down the driving test centre in Wisbech.
Mr Barclay met with the Wisbech and District Driving Instructors Association last week and has pledged to take up the fight to save the Wisbech Test Centre.
Thousands of Fenland learner drivers face having to take their test in the unfamiliar surroundings of King's Lynn now that the Multi-Purpose Driving Test Centre is operating there.
Massive public opposition to the closure of the Wisbech Driving Test Centre, which included a 6,000-name petition presented by Malcolm Moss MP to the Minister of Transport last year, resulted in the Driving Standards Agency pulling back from outright closure of the Wisbech centre. Instead, they agreed to monitor demand in Wisbech until June this year.
Mr Barclay, who will be standing for North East Cambridgeshire when Mr Moss retires at the next election, has taken up the battle because he fears that the monitoring exercise is just a holding position for the Driving Standards Agency and that they are still seeking to close the Wisbech centre rather than looking for ways to keep it open.
"If the Wisbech Test Centre closes, it will be a disaster for people taking their driving tests across the whole of Fenland," said Mr Barclay. " It will mean taking their test in unfamiliar surroundings, thus increasing the chances of failure. It will also mean test candidates will have to pay more for driving lesson hours getting to King's Lynn and then for their pre-test lessons."
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Mr Barclay says the increased chance of failing tests and the attendant increase in costs, made worse by the hike in the driving test fee from �56.50 to �62, can only lead to increasing numbers of people taking to the roads without a licence and insurance, something that is already an issue of concern.
Driving instructors based in King's Lynn are already reporting a higher failure rate among King's Lynn learners on new test routes out of the new test centre, compared with the old test centre, which was based at the other end of the town. With this being the case, there is even more reason to keep the Wisbech Test Centre since Fenland test candidates will be at an even greater disadvantage.
Mr Barclay said: "Learners need to have their driving lessons in the same area as their driving test, otherwise they are at an unfair disadvantage and the increased risk of failure means a further significant increase in driving lesson costs while they prepare to retake their test.
"Anything that acts as a disincentive for people to take their driving test is inevitably going to lead to more illegal drivers on Fenland roads and this a a real danger that affects everyone.
"I believe the Driving Standards Agency decision, taken under duress, to monitor demand for tests in Wisbech was nothing more than a sop to local people and that it was merely a stay of execution.
"There are far too many services and facilities being 'centralised' in King's Lynn or Peterborough or Cambridge in the name of efficiency and cost cutting, but it is all at the expense of the people of Fenland and we must work together to stop it.