Wiltshire Publications

Issue 491 – Good news for Westbury learners as driving centre to reopen

Driving instructors and learners in Westbury are celebrating the news that the driving test centre in Trowbridge is set to re-open.

Trowbridge will hold one of seven trials “exploring a new approach to test delivery”, enabling them to provide practical car tests.
For the last three years Westbury learners have had to travel 16 miles to Chippenham instead of the six miles to Trowbridge, not only to take their tests but to familiarise themselves with the route beforehand, at considerable time and expense.
The trial will explore whether tests can now be provided more locally in the Trowbridge area, and possibly by using alternative venues such as local authority buildings, hotels or leisure centres.
Driving instructors have campaigned for driver testing in Trowbridge since the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) announced the proposed closure of the town’s test centre in March 2008. The closure of Trowbridge Driving Test Centre (DTC) in August 2008 increased the cost of passing a driving test for residents in Trowbridge, Frome and Westbury by between £200-£400, since learner drivers had to travel up to an hour each way to Chippenham, and, according to DSA statistics, this resulted in a third reduction in the number of driving tests being taken by people living in Trowbridge, Westbury and Frome.
On Friday 24th June driving instructors held a Drive Slow Protest through Trowbridge and Westbury which ended in a meeting with Dr Andrew Murrison MP who contacted the Minister immediately following the meeting pressing for an early positive decision on the return of driver testing to Trowbridge.
Gary Fossey of Shamrock Driving School and leader of the Campaign to Reopen Trowbridge DTC said “I’m delighted that the Coalition Government have acknowledged that the decision to close Trowbridge DTC by the DSA in 2008 was ill-advised and are aiming, to quote the Minister, “to provide a more local service that is both convenient for candidates and cost effective”.
“During our Drive Slow Protest on 24th June we received a high level of support from Trowbridge and Westbury residents who had or knew someone who had been forced to put off learning to drive as a result of the increased cost caused by having to take the driving test in Chippenham. This news will enable many Trowbridge, Westbury and Frome area residents to be able to afford to learn to drive, which will not only give them freedom and independence but will also improve their job prospects at a time when the Trowbridge area is losing jobs. We’d like to thank Duncan Hames MP (Lib Dem Chippenham) for supporting our campaign and extend special thanks to Dr Andrew Murrison MP (Cons S W Wiltshire) for his exemplary support and the considerable amount of work he has undertaken on behalf of learner drivers, their families and the driver training industry in the Trowbridge, Westbury and Frome areas”.
The driver testing venue together with the date when learner drivers can start booking and taking driving tests in the Trowbridge area is not yet known. The DSA said “As well as using conventional driving test centres, DSA is looking at whether tests could also be delivered from other venues such as local authority buildings, hotels or leisure centres”.
The Campaign to Reopen Trowbridge DTC, in association with Wiltshire and Trowbridge Town Councils, recently proposed three potential venues to the DSA and they envisage driver testing recommencing within the next few months and certainly before the end of 2011.