Yet another UK driving test is facing closure, this time in Pontypridd Wales and driving instructors are not happy about the situation. However, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), this particular driving test centre is ‘failing to meet national requirements for the driving test.’
Another day and another driving test centre is to be shutdown. The DVSA recently confirmed that the Rhondda Cynon Taf in Pontypridd will be closed, with a new centre in Llantrisant set to open in its place.
The DVSA claims that the decision to close the Pontypridd driving test centre is based on its ‘failure to meet the national requirements for the driving test.’ However, the government agency did say that the new centre in Llantrisant would offer ‘better facilities and more tests, while candidates will be assessed on all elements of the new driving exam.’
Closure of Pontypridd driving test centre controversial
The closure of Pontypridd driving test centre means that candidates, many of whom live in Rhondda, will be forced to travel seven miles to take a driving exam – something which has been slammed by local driving instructors.
Ian Lewis of local driving school IDRiVE Cymru explained that he had been in discussions with the DVSA over the move since it was first mooted in 2015.
Lewis said: “It’s a bad thing for learners and instructors. We have fought against the move and there are instructors who will struggle to make a living now because of it – it’s so much further to go than Pontypridd for most people in the Valleys.”
“For learners, it’s completely at odds with what the DVSA are saying they want to do with the new driving test, which looks to test people on faster and more dangerous roads. They are moving it to Llantrisant – an area that has no access to the A470, no one-way systems and no slip roads or national speed limit roads,” Lewis added.
Lewis reckons that learner drivers passing a driving test in Llantrisant will be less safe on the roads because the exam will be far easier, as there’s not much candidates can be truly tested on.
The driving instructor claims that moving the test centre is a DVSA ‘cost-saving exercise dressed up to be in the best interests of learner drivers and instructors.’
Lewis said: “Learning to drive gives people mobility to get and keep jobs. By moving it even further away from where people are struggling with wages is bad news indeed. If you live in Maerdy and are used to driving to Ponty for lessons, you now have to go seven miles further each way. How will they have the money to pay for those longer lessons?
Mr Lewis claims that there has been no consultation over the decision to close the Pontypridd driving test centre and that the outcome has been ‘civil servant-led.’
Pontypridd offers a wider variety of driving experiences
Rhondda Assembly Member, Leanne Wood, said: “I wrote to [the DVSA] last year opposing such a move because of the wide variety of driver experiences that Pontypridd offers and its accessibility for learner drivers from the Rhondda.”
“Some driving instructors from the Rhondda also got in touch to say that Llantrisant would be too far away – even on a two hour lesson due to frequent heavy traffic – for learners from the top of the valley. Many instructors from the Rhondda will be angered by this relocation,” Wood added.
Announcing the closure in a letter to Ms Wood, the DVSA stated: “Full test routes cannot always be completed in the allocated time due to traffic congestion and, regrettably, we are forced to cancel the first and last test slots on a frequent basis. The site does not have parking facilities and therefore, candidates cannot be tested on the car parking manoeuvre.”
The current Pontypridd driving test centre on Pwllgwaun Road offers tests for cars and approved driving instructors, while a separate centre at Merthyr Industrial Park in Pentrebach offers tests for car, motorcycle and taxi drivers.
The Llantrisant Large Goods Vehicle site offers tests for lorry, bus and large vehicle drivers.
Pontypridd driving test centre ‘sub-standard’
The DVSA described the experience at Pontypridd as ‘sub-standard’, adding: “The waiting room for candidates and driving instructors is small and cramped, and welfare facilities are basic, including poor kitchen facilities and an external toilet, which is shared by staff and customers.”
It also said other alternatives suggested to the DVSA by Ms Wood, including Treforest Industrial Estate, were “not operationally suitable”, and “would be considerably more expensive than using existing DVSA-owned estates.”
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