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29th Nov, 2021

Solihull driving instructor speaks out about impact of Covid on tests and lessons

Sarah Mason 12th Nov, 2021

A SOLIHULL driving instructor has spoken of the impact Covid restrictions are still having on tests across the borough.

The pandemic slammed the brakes on lessons and non-emergency driving tests and now those who are ready to take a test are finding long wait times and cancellations.

Neil Shuter from The A-Team Driving School said there is a ‘wide-ranging’ impact on lessons and tests.

Neil said that on average learners were looking at a six-month wait to be seen by an examiner and some have even seen their tests pushed back by months.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said measures to ease the backlog included out of hours testing, offering overtime to examiners, asking retired examiners to return and a huge recruitment push.

Neil claimed people from outside the Midlands had tried to book tests in at Shirley Test Centre in a bid to jump the queue.

He said: “The issue of people outside the area booking tests is ridiculous.

“We had several people book Shirley test centre after the lockdowns that had no connection to Shirley and that had never been here.

“One candidate booked a hotel for four days in order to carry out a test at Shirley having travelled from the Malvern area.

“We have had people living in London with no connections to Shirley contact us with tests booked as it’s the ‘soonest’ date they could get.

“This is hugely unfair on people who live in the area and for the examiners due to the increased work load it causes.”

He said the DVSA are under huge pressure but believes those who have had a test cancelled should be offered a priority test much sooner.

For those looking to book a test Neil said: “Please don’t unless you’ve consulted an instructor first to check for availability and whether you’ll be ready as you’ll want to pass first time rather than having to wait months for another test.

“Those that are practising with parents – my advice would be maybe take an assessment lesson with an instructor who will give you honest advice whether you’re ready to book a test.

“We will be completely honest and give you our professional opinion whether you should book.”

Loveday Ryder, DVSA chief executive, said: “We are doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible so we can get our services back to normal.

“I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that candidates are properly prepared and don’t rush to take it.”

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