Closure of South Tyneside driving test centre and move to Sunderland confirmed by DVSA

Learner drivers face higher costs and longer waits to gain their licences following the decision to close South Shields’s test centre, driving instructors have warned.

Monday, 17th January 2022, 4:55 am

And bosses at the government agency have now confirmed their decision, with business expected to cease at the site from April 10.

The move would leave Sunderland the closest alternative centre, but it has prompted concerns some learners could be hit in the pocket.

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Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Bede Industrial Estate, Jarrow

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“It’s unfair on South Tyneside people, Sunderland pupils will become the cream of the crop, while lesson times, prices and waiting lists all increase for anyone in South Tyneside,” said Vikki Holt, a driving instructor who has campaigned against the changes.

“And it’s another commodity being taken away from South Tyneside without any consultation with the instructors or the general public - we’re being left behind.”

She added moving the test centre could discourage many from learning to drive in South Shields, opting instead to travel into areas near working centres, to be better prepared for test routes.

But she cautioned the loss of knowledge of junctions and other hazards among newly qualified motorists could have knock-on effects for road safety.

The move has also been slammed by Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, who used social media to call the decision “completely unacceptable” and promised to continue her opposition at a planned meeting with DVSA chiefs later this month.

In a notice on its website, the agency insisted learners would “continue to receive the same good service from Sunderland” and that they “should not need to learn to drive at a test centre location”

A spokesman added: “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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