Documents leaked to the Public and Commercial Services Union reveal, claims the union, that the government is considering closing driving test centres across the country and, claims the union, privatising the driving test process by using "delegated examiners" from private companies to conduct tests.
In a meeting last November, the minutes of which the PCSU has made available for download from its website the transport minister, Mike Penning told four MPs that he was considering "whether [driving tests] could be provided more efficiently at a lower cost; and whether they could be undertaken by other organisations inside or outside of the public sector”.
Amongst venues being considered as driving test centres by the Driving Standards Agency are supermarkets and community centres. In another document DSA officials examine the possibility of outsourcing the testing process itself to private companies – the union says that private testers have a 20 per cent higher pass rate than DSA examiners.
Another revelation in the leaked documents is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the governments decision to go ahead with the closure of driving test centres earmarked for closure by the previous Labour administration – despite an election promise to reconsider such cuts.
Commenting on the documents PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These new documents shed more light on the plans being hatched behind closed doors by senior managers and ministers. “Worryingly, it is the latest evidence of the creeping privatisation of the agency’s work, which puts ideology before road safety.”
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.