WEST FIFE driving instructors were left in the dark by the Driver Vehicle and Standards Authority (DVSA) over the closure of Dunfermline’s test centre. 

That’s the view of Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman, who has criticised the agency over their lack of communication regarding the closure of the venue at Pitreavie Drive. 

Local instructors and politicians met the DVSA at a public meeting last Wednesday after the Press revealed at the start of the month that a decision by the landlord of the test centre building at Pitreavie Drive to end its lease left Dunfermline without a centre.

The DVSA were kicked out of the Pitreavie Drive premises on Friday and up until a couple of weeks ago, there was no place to go. 

However, the Vine Conference Centre at Garvock Hill stepped in to save the day and, from Monday, tests will be carried out there, but only on three days a week. 

At the public meeting, people were told the DVSA had learned of the closure on April 12, but driving instructors were not informed of the news until at least the first week in May – a gap of around three weeks.

Mary Archer, operations delivery manager at the DVSA, apologised at the meeting for the lack of communication and said she would find out who was responsible. 

Mr Chapman said: “The livelihoods of the area’s driving instructors are at stake here and to leave them in the dark for so long on the future of the centre is unacceptable.

“I have had instructors tell me they received the news of the closure on Facebook or in the local press and not officially from the DVSA.

“I will be writing to the DVSA again to seek clarity on how the service will run from now and how they intend to ensure this does not happen again. 

“It’s important for Dunfermline and West Fife learners and driving instructors that we retain a driving test centre in Dunfermline. 

“It was good to hear that Fife Council, through Councillor Helen Law, has guaranteed that the council will find alternative premises for the Driving Test Centre to operate from in the longer term and we are holding her to that promise. 

“The last thing I want to see is for there to be no service at all provided in Dunfermline and for new drivers to be forced to sit their tests in Kirkcaldy. 

“The Kirkcaldy option needs to be taken off the table and let’s focus all our efforts on retaining the service in Dunfermline.”

Gillian Taylor, City of Dunfermline community manager, confirmed: “We’ll help DVSA find new premises if the Vine Conference Centre proves unsuitable long term.”

Plans for the new premises at the Vine Centre mean testing will only take place three days a week but the DVSA insist this will not mean a reduction in the number of tests being carried out – with an average of 56 a week going ahead.

That’s despite a reduction in the number of staff at the centre as they move to other centres according to Mr Chapman.

Instructors were assured this would be a trial period - with the intention of going back to five days eventually.

Mike Arthur, owner of Eezydrive Driving School, told the Press: “I think people are still worried about what would happen if parties decide to stop the contract at the Vine. 

“There’s not really a second option at the moment. 

“We did not get told much at all by the DVSA but Mary Archer did apologise and said we should have been told earlier. People are certainly happy that the test centre will remain in Dunfermline and hopefully it will stay. 

“That was a big fear that we were being forced to Kirkcaldy. 

“When there is no communication you automatically think there is a hidden agenda but they said they had no plans to leave Dunfermline.

“We’ll be keeping an ear to the ground going forward.”

Learner drivers are also being urged not to practise in the Vine car park ahead of their test.