MP pledges to help cut driving test waits in Oswestry
North Shropshire MP, Owen Paterson has pledged to support a campaign to bring down waiting times for driving tests in Oswestry.
Learner drivers in the town are having to wait up to three months after putting in for their test if they want to take it locally, facing the cost of extra lessons to keep their skills up to speed.
Mr Paterson says that a driving licence is a necessity not a luxury to get around in the county.
He is urging the recently launched Oswestry & District Driving Instructors Association to write to him with the figures so that he can take it up at Westminster.
He said: "In Shropshire 67 per cent of people use a car to get to and from work. We are a rural county and a driving licence is not a luxury here, it is a neccesity."
The Association says Oswestry has the longest waiting list in the county and across the Welsh border,
Instructors say their pupils will often opt for a test in neighbouring Wrexham or Whitchurch but say that has financial implications for those learners.
Chairman, Gareth Jones, who is keen to have the MP's support, said clients had to have instruction in the town they were taking their test in.
"They obviously have to have some lessons there to get to know the roads," he said.
"But because it takes at least 20 minutes to drive to Wrexham, more to Whitchurch and that is eating into their lesson time. And taking a test in Wrexham is very different to taking one in Oswestry, it is so much bigger and busier."
"If they wait a few more weeks to have their test in Oswestry, they have to have extra lessons while they are waiting."
The Oswestry association said one of the problems was that Oswestry was only a part time centre.
"The government says full time test centres should be able to offer tests within six weeks. But because we are a part time centre our statistics don't show up," Mr Jones, fromt he Stop and Go driving school, said.
A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency spokesman said: “DVSA’s priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving.
“We have listened to concerns raised by approved driving instructors and are looking to deploy additional examiner resource.
“Oswestry driving test bookings are currently running at nine weeks in advance. Drivers who feel they are ready to take their test sooner, may choose to use Wrexham Driving Test Centre which is booking tests seven weeks in advance.”