Fresh calls for u-turn on South Tyneside driving test centre closure as new figures reveal annual running costs
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According to data obtained through Freedom of Information (FoI) rules, cost the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) less than £10,400 in 2020/21, including rates, utilities and a token ‘peppercorn rent’.
But the decision prompted anger from driving instructors in the borough, as well as senior members of South Tyeside Council and Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, who warned it could lead to higher lesson costs, as well potentially exclude some learners.
“By making it more difficult for young people to pass, they’re taking away people’s opportunities,” said Vikki Holt, one of the campaign’s leaders.
"I don’t see how this adds up in any way, shape or form and it’s going to be the people of South Tyneside paying the price.
“Now is not the time to be closing test centres and taking away opportunities for people in South Tyneside.”
Osborne, who had a previous attempt in Parliament to request operating costs for the test centre rebuffed before the FoI request was returned, used a social media post to question whether the decision was “cost-effective”.
The DVSA has claimed the figures do not represent the full costs or overheads involved in running the test centre.
A spokesman for the organisation 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 and there is no change in the number of tests provided to local candidates.
“Learners do not have to incur extra costs travelling to test centres to learn to drive.
"With more than half of candidates failing their driving test and having to pay for more lessons and take another test, it is safer and better to be properly prepared to drive on any road, before attempting it in the first place.
“All tests are carried out to the same standard so it is vital that learners have the skills to be able to drive safely on all roads and should be able to pass their test anywhere, rather than simply learning driving test routes.”