THE TRANSPORT Minister has given the Arbroath driving test centre a stay of execution, according to Angus MP Mike Weir.
Mr Weir says he was given a verbal assurance from Mike Penning that he has instructed the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) not to close the Arbroath or Forfar centres until he has had a chance to fully consider the alternatives for providing the service in the area.
He also added that a fuller meeting on the issue would be held after next week’s parliamentary recess.
Mr Weir explained: “Clearly, at least at this stage, this is not so much a reprieve as a stay of execution but it does indicate that the minister is listening to the points that are being made in favour of the centres and some of the alternative ways we can ensure the continuation of a service in Angus.
“It is also not yet clear how long this will last and how it will operate in the meantime. I will be meeting the Driving Standards Agency this coming week to push the case for the centres and also to see what their intentions are in dealing with the matter in the interim period.
“It is clear, however, that the pressure of the parliamentary debate and questions to ministers, including the Prime Minister, and the strong campaign by local driving instructors are having an effect.
“The department are now willing to listen, which is a major improvement from the high handed attitude of the DSA when they initially announced the closure.”
It was announced by the DSA last month that the town’s test centre would close as a new multi-purpose centre is set to be opened in Dundee.
A campaign to save the Arbroath centre has been mounted by local driving instructors and they have already gathered a 1,500 name online petition.
On Thursday their campaign was boosted after a motion was passed at the full Angus Council meeting drawing unanimous support, condemning the proposals and urging the DSA to carry out a full consultation.
Arbroath councillor Donald Morrison supported the motion and labelled the proposals by the DSA as “ludicrous”.
He said: “The huge campaign led by local driving instructors shows the depth of anger throughout the county to the ludicrous proposals by the DSA to close centres in Arbroath and Forfar without any consultation.
“On the back of supporting the petition, I was delighted to support the motion because I believe forcing pupils from Angus onto the unfamiliar routes in Dundee will damage learner confidence and unfairly increase costs for both instructors and pupils.”