- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
AM JOINS FIGHT TO SAVE LLANDRINDOD WELLS PRACTICAL DRIVING TEST CENTRE
Labour Assembly Member Joyce Watson is fighting to save the Llandrindod Wells Practical Driving Test Centre (DTC), after instructors warned that the Driving Standards Agency will try to close it – to save money.
She has learned the centre in the Welsh Assembly building on Spa Road East is up for review by the DSA as its occupancy agreement will expire at the end of March.
Members of the Mid Powys Driving Instructors Association believe the DSA will close the centre to save cash – without examining the cost to local people.
Mrs Watson, Labour AM for Mid and West Wales, met Paul Wilson (MPDIA chairman), Peter Williams (MPDIA secretary) and members Mike Davies, Colin Morgan and Cora Brown to discuss their concerns on January 14.
She agreed to lobby both the DSA and the Ministry of Transport to keep the test centre open, and also to write to Assembly transport minister Ieuan Wyn Jones for support and reassurance.
In Llandrindod itself, Labour will launch a petition to gauge the strength of public feeling.
“If the Llandrindod Wells centre closes, people will have to travel an hour either to Brecon or Newtown to learn the test route and take their test,” said Mrs Watson.
“This would dramatically raise the price, potentially trebling the cost of an hour’s tuition, putting it outside most people’s affordability.”
She said: “It would add extra stress to the test experience, besides putting pressure on the already-stretched resources of other test centres.
“The practice sites will have to cope with extra traffic, which will cause further congestion in Brecon and Newtown.”
She added: “The importance of this centre cannot be underestimated. The ability to drive is vital in rural areas where transport links are weak and many people travel great distances to work.”
Mike Sivier, secretary of Labour’s Llandrindod Wells branch, added: “Driving instructors bring trade here because they and their learners use cafes and businesses in the town. That trade would be lost if the test centre closes.
“The affordability issue could badly damage the economy here because about half the learners are aged 30-plus, and are learning to drive to get into the job market.
“And the instructors’ working capacity will be cut down because of the time it takes to travel elsewhere.”
Mr Sivier said he would be asking newsagents and supermarkets to host a petition calling for the DSA to rule out the possibility of closure.
“We need to demonstrate our concern about this. Please ask to sign the petition at your local newsagent or supermarket,” he said.
For more information contact Joyce Watson’s office on 02920 898972 or on www.joycewatson.co.uk.