Norwich driving instructors slam long wait for tests

Angry driving instructors, who say learners can face waits as long as four months to take their driving tests, have called on Norwich's MPs to take up the case.

The instructors say a lack of examiners at Norwich's test centre at Broadland Business Park is part of the reason for the delays and presented a petition to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Norwich South MP Simon Wright calling for them to help.

The instructors also want to see the booking system tightened up, because they feel some schools have found a way to work the system and are charging learners a higher fee for shorter waiting times.

David Young, of 1st Choice Driving School, set up the petition, signed by more than 100 frustrated driving instructors, after one of his pupils narrowly failed his driving test and was told he would have to wait four months for another test.

Mr Young said: 'This problem is particularly serious for those people whose theory pass certificates are running out and who might therefore have to take this exam again, thus incurring more expense and inconvenience.

'I became even more disappointed when I discovered that a local driving school was advertising that it could guarantee 75pc faster booking times than Driving Standards Agency waiting lists for practical tests.

'That means 75pc faster than the rest of us, and perhaps helps explain the disparity between official waiting lists and our own experiences of waiting times.

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'It is clear that the booking rules need to be tightened up to ensure all customers are properly catered for at all times.'

Mr Young, from Belsize Road, off Plumstead Road, has more than 20 years' experience as a driving instructor and said a shortage of instructors at the Norwich test centre was also a problem.

And he added: 'While we definitely need more permanent examiners to keep waiting lists down, we as instructors also need to do our bit. We owe it to our pupils and the public in general to ensure that our customers are of a decent standard before entering the test.'

After receiving the petition at Sprowston Sports and Social Club in Blue Boar Lane, the MPs said they would take it up with the Department for Transport.

Miss Smith said: 'People seem to be faced with unnecessary delays in booking tests. Surely it wouldn't be too difficult to improve the bureaucracy. Waiting for tests has a real impact on learners and, in the long-term, the livelihood of instructors too.'

Mr Wright said: 'I'm concerned to hear that some people may be waiting for excessive periods before they're able to take a driving test. Without the chance to take and pass a test, some people will find their transport options for work and study limited, particularly in rural areas.'

A DSA spokesman said: 'Norwich multi-purpose test centre has experienced higher than average waiting times in recent weeks, primarily due to high demand. We are working to improve the situation by making extra driving test slots available. We have brought in extra examiners and are offering out-of-hours testing early in the morning and on Saturdays. As a result, waiting times have now begun to improve.'

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