Norwich learner drivers get extra instructors boost

Waiting times for learner drivers in Norwich look set to be reduced after it was announced a number of new examiners are starting work in the city.

Angry driving instructors got in touch with the city's MPs before Christmas because some of their pupils were having to wait up to four months to get tests. The instructors said a lack of examiners at Norwich's test centre at Broadland Business Park was part of the reason for the delays and presented a petition to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, pictured, and Norwich South MP Simon Wright calling for them to help.

David Young, of 1st Choice Driving School, set up the petition, signed by more than 100 frustrated driving instructors, after one of his pupils narrowly failed his driving test and was told he would have to wait four months for another test. The MPs have now been sent a letter from the Department for Transport informing them that, over the past 12 months, five driving instructors in Norwich had retired. The department said there was 'no doubt' that had affected waiting times, but that four new instructors were due to start in Norwich this month.

Liberal Democrat MP Mr Wright said: 'The situation now seems to be improving with new examiners starting in Norwich. I'm grateful to Mr Young for raising the concerns that he and many other local instructors had.'

Concerns were also raised that some driving schools were promising quicker tests for a higher fee and the Department for Transport asked for further information about that so it could investigate further.

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Ministers said the Driving Standards Agency was aware of computer programmes which automatically search its online booking system for cancelled test slots and had taken action to prevent that.

Conservative MP Miss Smith said: 'The minister recognised what we argued about fairness in booking test slots, and will take any evidence that instructors or anyone else might have about attempts to charge for queue jumping. All in all we and the 100-plus instructors who signed the petition have now raised these issues at the highest level. I hope we've made a start at improving a few things for learners in Norwich.'

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