Learner drivers face 18-week wait to book a test in Melton

Driving instructor Alec Hatwood at the Melton Driving Test Centre at Phoenix House, Nottingham Road EMN-161209-164935001
Driving instructor Alec Hatwood at the Melton Driving Test Centre at Phoenix House, Nottingham Road EMN-161209-164935001
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Learner drivers are facing an 18-week wait to book a test in Melton - to the frustration of local instructors and their pupils.

Driving instructor Alec Hatwood, who is franchised to BSM, said all his Melton learners were having to travel to other test centres in Loughborough, Grantham, Leicester or even Nottingham where waiting times are shorter.

But this is costing Melton pupils and instructors more money and causing added stress and inconvenience says Mr Hatwood who is calling for ‘at least one full-time examiner to be sent over to Melton as we are being treated unfairly.’

He said: “These are the worst waiting times for tests, locally and nationally, in the 11 years I’ve been doing this job.

“Candidates are having increased stress about upcoming tests as, if they fail, they will not get another test in Melton and must re-book in an unfamiliar town.

“They must take additional lessons and commute to the next centre to familiarise themselves with a new town, costing them extra money.

“I’m in the fortunate position to cover Melton and Loughborough so I’m well placed to take someone to Loughborough.

“But it costs more for instructors driving to other areas every lesson with increased fuel, mileage and running costs.

“When pupils can’t get tests in Melton they look elsewhere and may travel to another town to meet a new instructor. So they change from a Melton instructor to one who covers a different catchment area affecting our business.”

He added: “If a pupil does find a test in another area they’re often short notice cancellations and at bad times of day which is inconvenient.

“Sometimes the pupil may not be ready for an upcoming test but they’re reluctant to reschedule it as it means several months waiting again so they want to try to go ahead with the test ready or not.

“Another problem is the other test centre waiting times have also gone up due to the increased demand from Melton people.

“Many instructors are just recovering from the recession and need all the work they can get so this really isn’t helping.

“All in all it’s the perfect storm for struggling local driving instructors trying to make a living.”

DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “We acknowledge many of our customers are waiting too long to take a driving test. We’re working hard to make more tests available.

“Melton is not a full-time permanent test centre, it’s an occasional site which offers tests from Tuesdays to Thursdays. As at Monday (September 12) the waiting time at this test centre is 18 weeks.

“Candidates may be able to get a test sooner by looking beyond their nearest test centre. For example, test centres close to Melton such as Grantham and Leicester Wigston have a number of appointments available in the next eight weeks.

“Tests at Melton are conducted by examiners based at Grantham test centre. Since April we’ve recruited one new examiner at Grantham and are progressing the recruitment of another.

“Waiting times at alternative centres are: Grantham - eight weeks, Loughborough - 15 weeks, Leicester Cannock Street - 12 weeks and Leicester Wigston - eight weeks.”