Last Updated: 01/01/2020
Driving instructors in Reading have been left reeling after finding out that the local Driving Test Centre will close next May.
The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) announcement came out of the blue for instructors and local residents when it announced the imminent closure of its Elgar Road facility.
The centre has seen thousands of learner drivers start and finish their practical driving tests there and its loss could be a significant blow to those businesses who rely on it.
The Reading Test Centre will close due to the lease on the property not being renewed, a decision that was out of the hands of the DVSA.
The organisation must now explore alternative locations within the Reading and Woodley area which it says it is committed to do.
Despite that commitment, driving instructors have been left uncertain as to what the future holds for them beyond the end of May 2020.
Coupled with the timing of the announcement which is claimed was both sudden and without consultation with instructors, the frustration is certainly clear to see.
Andy Lee, the chairman of the Berkshire Driving Instructors group, said: “We are very keen to have input and are extremely disappointed to have had no consultation whatsoever on this matter. Frontline staff deserve more support. From a customer point of view, what is being proposed is completely unacceptable. We need to keep the local test centre local’
Local government has also been dragged in to the saga, with Labour MP for Reading East, Matt Rodda, expressing his disappointment at the closure of the existing centre.
Rodda said: “I am very concerned about the uncertainty created by this announced closure. Learners in Reading and Woodley should be able to take their driving test close to home, but now face the possibility of taking their tests outside of Reading. As local MP I want to do all I can to protect the interests of our community, Reading is one of the largest towns in the country and it needs its own driving test centre.”
While the anger and frustration is understandable, the DVSA has reiterated its intention to find a new venue for the Reading Driving Test Centre, while also confirming that the choice to close the existing centre was something they had no control over.
A spokesman for the DVSA commented on the matter, saying: “DVSAs priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving. We have been given notice to leave Reading driving test centre in May 2020. We are committed to providing Reading with a driving test centre and are looking for alternative locations. Testing will continue at the present site until Sunday, May 31, 2020.”
Learner drivers will be anxiously awaiting for news of a new test centre as we head in to the New Year.
Taking your driving test is nerve-wracking enough without having to travel to a strange or unfamiliar town to do it in.
If no new option is found by June 1st, learner drivers will be faced with a journey of more than 13 miles to the nearest centres in Newbury, Greenham or High Wycombe.
Image Credits: getreading.co.uk