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Lib Dem Candidate Calls for Urgent Action to Tackle Driving Tests Backlog

Published on: 7 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 8 Dec, 2021

Image: Wikipedia

Guildford’s driving test centre needs urgent help to tackle a massive backlog in tests according to Zöe Franklin, the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Guildford.

And Guildford’s MP admits that while there has been “quite a bit of success” in tackling the problem, “there’s more to be done”.

In a press release, the Lib Dems say thousands of local people are facing up to a six-month delay for a driving test and in some cases, delays are so long that they are having to re-sit theory tests as the expiring date has passed.  The backlog of tests is a result of the significant reductions in tests available during 2020/21 due to the pandemic combined with a shortage of driving test examiners.

According to figures claimed to have been uncovered by the Liberal Democrats, fewer than a quarter of the 300 extra driving test examiners promised by the government have been recruited so far. Locally, the Surrey test centres in Surrey (Reigate/Redhill, Guildford and Chertsey) have seen their number of examiners fall from 17 full-time and six part-time in 2019 to, currently, 17 full-time.

The issue is said to be further compounded by the shortage of driving instructors to take lessons. The latest figures show there were 38,365 approved driving instructors in the UK in June 2021, down almost a fifth from 46,569 a decade ago.

Zoe Franklin

Having reviewed the figures, Zöe Franklin has written to the Department of Transport calling for extra resources to be made available to Guildford. 

Ms Franklin said: “Across the country, over 400,000 people are still waiting for a driving test and Guildford waiting times are some of the longest. Young drivers are being held back from moving to the next stage of their lives as they can’t drive to jobs or experience the freedoms that come with driving. 

“In more rural parts of my constituency driving is essential as public transport is so poor and these delays are causing real stress and in some cases impacting job prospects. 

“It’s time the government did more to support the test centre here in Guildford so we can clear the backlog. That’s why I have written to the Department of Transport calling for extra resources to be made available to tackle the backlog and fulfil the promise the government made to recruit more driving test examiners.”

Angela Richardson MP

Angela Richardson, the MP for Guildford, responded: “As far back as May, I have been regularly contacted by Guildford constituents looking for help to resolve issues with both the DVLA, responsible for licences, and the DVSA, which is responsible for testing. I’m glad to say that we’ve had quite a bit of success but there’s more to be done.

“The DVSA has clearly been hit hard by the pandemic – the lockdown saw driving tests backing up as well as new instructors not being able to be trained. I know that they are working to try to catch up with the backlog but it clearly isn’t enough at the moment to meet the high demand that has built up.

“I am assured that they are doing everything they can to increase the number of driving test appointments, although this is little consolation to those constituents who are struggling to find nearby test dates.”

“I will keep pressing them to do more and to help constituents who contact me about driving test and licence issues.”

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