DRIVING instructors fuming at the prospect of Hyde Driving Test Centre closing its doors have been further angered by the apparent attitude of bosses.
The Correspondent last month told how several in the area feel they will be plunged into chaos by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency’s decision to shut the Perrin Street site.
And Stephanie Mistry, chief executive of Ashton-based Strive To Drive, feels the approach by them at a recent meeting only rubbed salt into their wounds.
She told The Correspondent: “We had a meeting with a representative from the DVSA, who read a statement and listened to our concerns but announced the decision would be going ahead and they would not open dialogue with any instructors.
“The reason they did no consultation was because they knew it would cause problems for them.
“When asked why they failed to conduct any surveys among instructors and learners in the area, they replied, ‘It would have cost money and it wouldn’t have gone in the DVSA’s favour.’
“And according to the representative the decision has been made by the minister Grant Shapps to save the Government money.”
The decision to close Hyde means dozens of Tameside-based teachers face having to move tests to either Bredbury in Stockport or Chadderton in Oldham.
None will be cancelled because of the sudden decision but that has not quelled anger, not least because of the effect on learners, who provide an estimated £496,000 a year in test fees.
And Stephanie highlighted one of her pupils’ difficulties as she added: “I had a learner who booked a test in October for a test at Hyde.
“The earliest she could get was mid-April, she looked for cancellations every single day and didn’t manage to find one.
“Her test was booked for the 17th but heard the centre was closing on the 10th so called the DVLA to find out what was happening with her test, only to be told her test is going ahead on the same date and time but in Cheetham Hill.
“She lives on Mottram Rise in Stalybridge. The reason they couldn’t arrange it for Bredbury or Chadderton is because, ‘There are no tests for the foreseeable future.’”
After Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds – who held a further meeting with instructors and said the way the DVSA has acted is ‘not an acceptable way to behave’ – and neighbouring Denton and Reddish representative Andrew Gwynne demanded answers, Ashton’s Angela Rayner is now involved.
She met instructors to hear their concerns and is taking them to the top.
Stephanie told The Correspondent, as a protest outside the test centre was planned: “We decided the best action was to speak to Angela to see if this can be discussed in Parliament.
“She has written a letter to Grant Shapps to discuss her concerns about Tameside not having a testing facility going forward.
“She has asked for a meeting with the DVSA also.”
DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder insisted there would not be a rethink, saying: “Hyde test centre represents poor value for money and there are other centres within our distance to travel criteria that can absorb capacity, without reducing test capacity or slowing our recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”