New hope as business owner offers to host new site for Callander driving tests

A new location for Callander’s driving test centre has been suggested which would allow learners to sit the test in the town.

Driving tests in the town were stopped at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

In September last year, the Observer reported how concerns were raised after the test centre failed to reopen after the easing of lockdown – with the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) saying that the centre, located within Callander Youth Project, Bridgend, would not allow social distancing to be adhered to.

Whilst a number of testing centres did reopen, including the one in Stirling, pupils hoping to sit their test at Callander were left unable to book their test at the facility.

Instead, learner drivers in remote areas of rural Stirling have been faced with round trips of up to 100-miles to sit their driving test since the easing of lockdown last summer.

Now, one generous business owner has offered use of his premises in the town that would allow testing to resume.

Richard Johnson from MNV Consulting, based in Stirling Road, has now offered the DVSA use of part of the premises for the purposes of conducting driving tests.

Mr Johnson was put in contact with the DVSA by Trossachs and Teith ward councillor Martin Earl last October. Later that month, DVSA officials visited premises for inspection.

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MNV Consulting had sent terms to DVSA and are now awaiting confirmation that the location would be suitable to conduct driving tests from.

Mr Johnson this week told the Observer: “We’re pleased to offer part of our premises for this facility and help local people.”

Councillor Earl said: “It’s fantastic that MNV have stepped up to offer a location that addresses all the requirements now needed to be in place that would keep this vital service based in Callander.

“I hope that DVSA will confirm their desire to proceed so preparations can be made to get the facility ready to operate as soon as a relaxation of the current restrictions allow. I would also pay tribute to the Callander Youth Project for providing an initial location and preventing the loss of a test centre covering such a huge rural area.”

A DVSA spokesperson said: “Our priority is to keep staff and customers safe.

“The Scottish Government has announced mainland Scotland will remain in lockdown beyond January 31. The restrictions in Scotland will remain in place until at least the middle of February.

“All car driving tests are suspended in mainland Scotland. We’ll email candidates affected by this to let them know we will reschedule their test.

“We are continuing to look for a new site for a driving test centre at Callander as the current site does not meet social distancing requirements. Candidates should use the alternative nearby site at Stirling when the driving tests resume until we can operate from the current site safely or an alternative site is identified.”

In March 2019, the Observer told how the former test centre at McLaren Leisure Centre was to close, after Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency bosses refused to pay a rent hike of £100 per year to use the facility, meaning learners faced having to travel an extra 14 miles to Stirling or an additional 16 miles to Crieff. Learners based in Tyndrum would have travelled up to 50 miles each way to sit their test.

However, following a campaign from a local driving instructor, councillors and a petition which attracted more than 850 signatures, DVSA bosses were forced into a U-turn and agreed to relocate the test centre to the Callander Youth Project following an agreement with bosses there.