Convoy protest planned to oppose closure of South Tyneside driving test centre

Campaigners are preparing a last ditch battle to save South Tyneside’s driving test centre.

By James Harrison
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 5:00 am

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has now confirmed plans first revealed last year to shut down the facility, at Bede Industrial Estate, in Jarrow.

But driving instructors and others angry at the proposals have promised to show the strength of feeling against the decision with a protest planned in South Shields.

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“We want the people of South Tyneside to make their voices heard - this is going to affect the whole region,” said Vikki Holt, a driving instructor who has campaigned against the changes.

“The DVSA maintains that costs won’t increase, but the time you have to wait for an instructor is going to go up.

“And while they’re urging us to use cars less, the DVSA is telling people to drive more hours every week [going to learn routes for a test centre which is further away].”

The demonstration is set to see a convoy of cars leave the test centre at about 2pm on Thursday, January 27, and head to South Shields Town Hall.

The DVSA has contacted driving instructors confirming that the driving test centre in Jarrow will be closing its doors in April

Tracey Dixon, the leader of South Tyneside Council, has promised her support for the campaigners, insisting she is “totally opposed” to the “ill-thought-out plans”.

She has also warned about the wider impact it could have on the borough’s economy and job prospects, promising to write to the government to urge a re-think.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, who has written in the Gazette calling for a u-turn on the plans, is also expected to back the campaigners in a call with DVSA bosses scheduled for later this month.

Bosses have insisted testing capacity will not be affected by the closure, with demand expected to be handled by Sunderland’s test centre, raising concerns of an exodus of instructors from South Tyneside.

Ahead of the protest, a DVSA spokesman said: “We have made the decision to close the South Shields driving test centre, as there are other nearby centres where the same services can be relocated.

“We understand this change may cause an inconvenience for some, but we have worked hard to ensure that there is no change in the number of tests provided to local candidates, and no tests were lost as a result of the closure.”

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