Alastair Peoples Chief Executive of DVSA Will Review Southend Driving Test Centre

Today Alastair Peoples, Chief Executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) visited Southend-on-Sea as part of a review on the Southend-on-Sea driving  test centre, he agreed he would complete for the minister of transport. Present at the meeting were Lucy Cox from the office of James Duddridge MP, Martin Owens (DVSA), Jan Nascimento (DVSA), Barry Twilley (DVSA) and from SADDIA were John Ashton and myself (Tony Mihill).

Mr Peoples started the meeting by saying that he didn’t know so many people were going to be at Southend and that he was reviewing the situation at Southend as a personal favour to the Minister of Transport, Steven Hammond. He carried on to say that he would not be reviewing any other individual centres and that all policies for test centres will be covered by a universal policy for the whole country and that if he need to he would argue his point with any Minister. Mr Peoples went on to say that he was in the throes of reviewing and so couldn’t give an confirmation of whether he would be keeping Southend Test Centre open or not but he did commit to arranging a meeting to let us know 1st when a decision had been made. So a nice positive start to the meeting and I was immediately struck with a sinking feeling.

John Ashton put forward many reasons on why the test centre at Southend should remain and in fact should grow. The reasons included:

  • Travelling time
  • Cost to pupils and instructor
  • Examiners live in Southend
  • Mike Penning (ex Minister of Transport) agreed that if there is a demand in Southend he will make sure the DSA meet that demand
  • There is the demand for Southend and Basildon to stay open
  • Southend’s population is growing so the need for a test centre will only grow.
Mr Peoples answered John’s points by saying that all the reasons will be taken into account when a decision is made but the decision will be based on the needs of the DVSA, Road Safety and then the commitments he has made to reduce the cost to the customer. The carried on to say that he believes that the pass rate of 46% is far too low and that the DVSA are going to be implementing measures to lift the pass rate but not at the cost of road safety. These included:

  • Looking at tests
  • Looking at teaching techniques
  • Giving the customers (pupils) a more open view of what ADi’s are like i.e. Standards Check results
Tony Mihill pointed out that SADDIA and the ADi’s of Essex are committed to Road Safety and give many days to local schools to promote Road Safety and in no way did we want the tests to allow a lower standard of driver to pass the driving test. Tony carried on to say that publishing the Standards Test results will not mean that better instructors will get more work or that pupils will find better ADi’s because most of the general public do not know that we take Standards Checks let alone know what the marks mean and that some ADi’s manipulate the result by practising the routes and a topic to ensure they get great results.

Lucy Cox gave a brief history of the Southend Test Centre and what it took to get a centre back in Southend. Lucy carried on to say that James Duddridge and many Essex MP’s were whole heartedly behind having a test centre in Southend and that in fact along with Southend Cancer Unit James Duddridge had Southend Test Centre as his highest priority.

Lucy confirmed that there would definitely be a political stance on this matter. Mr Peoples was left with the fact that there would be a strong political objection to closing Southend Test Centre.

John Ashton asked whether Standards Tests could be taken at Southend but Mr Peoples refused to comment on this as he knew nothing about it but he will ask for it to be reviewed.

Tony Mihill advised that he and John had spoken with many ADi’s and the ADi’s that took their role as a career rather than a job wanted CPD and Tony suggested that it be made compulsory as it would bring the level of knowledge up and therefore lift the level of expertise of the ADi. He said that the consensus of opinion is that we need a replacement for Pass Plus. Tony carried on to say that this would also meet with all the DVSA’s commitments to the levels of driver skills and cover things that the present test does not cover.

Alastair closed the meeting by saying that there will be many changes to keep the DVSA evolving and so improve the testing process but the changes will not make everyone happy but they will be progressive.
Alastair Peoples Chief Executive of DVSA Will Review Southend Driving Test Centre Alastair Peoples Chief Executive of DVSA Will Review Southend Driving Test Centre Reviewed by The Driving Guru on Thursday, September 11, 2014 Rating: 5

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