The only Driving Test Centre in the Falkirk area could be closing for good later in the year and force learners to travel as far away as Livingston and Stirling to sit their tests.
When Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald received information the centre, located in Units 36 and 37, Earls Road Business Centre, Earls Road in Grangemouth, had indeed been earmarked for closure he contacted the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to get more information about the situation.
According to DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn the landlord for the premises has not yet stated if it will grant a new licence for the test centre to continue at the premises in the future.
The current licence comes to an end on May 31, with a possible extension to the end of September.
Mr MacDonald said: “This information is clearly concerning, given the test centre had already moved from its location in Falkirk’s Maggie Woods Loan to its current site a number of years ago.
“Closing this centre, with no direct replacement in the area being found, would force pupils and instructors to Livingston, Dunfermline or Stirling, costing more for lessons for pupils in Falkirk district.
“There would also be more demand for tests in these centres, meaning additional strain on those working in the centres. Grangemouth losing its test centre would detrimentally affect many of my constituents, and I would encourage those on all sides to get round the table and ensure a local solution is found soon.
“I also call on my colleague, recently re-elected Martyn Day MP, to make sure ministers at a UK level are working to secure the long term future of this test centre. Given that Bathgate lost its test centre recently, the closure of Grangemouth would mean my constituency, and his, are no longer served by a DVSA centre.
“That will be a great shame for both the UK Government and the landlords should this come to pass, not to mention a major inconvenience for residents in Falkirk district.”
Responding to Mr MacDonald’s inquiry, Mr Llewellyn said: “We have a licence agreement with the landlord at Grangemouth and the current licence ends on May 31, 2020. The landlord will only grant us a new licence until September 30 2020, although this might be subject to change.
“We cannot stay at the site if the landlord decides not to grant us a new agreement. We want to continue to provide a driving test service in Grangemouth. We have found it challenging in the past to find alternative suitable premises in this area. Our local driving examiner team has not been able to find any suitable sites so far but will continue the search.”
The premises in Earls Road where the test centre is located seems to have been the responsibility of a number of firms over the years, including Evans Easyspace, UK serviced office provider Regus and London-based Bridges Ventures.
Regus acquired the Evans Easyspace portfolio out of administration in 2014 and Bridges Ventures subsequently purchased a portfolio of 50 properties across the UK operated by Evans Easyspace for £84 million back in 2015. It was stated Regus would continue to run the portfolio under a management contract with Bridges Ventures.
However, when The Falkirk Herald got in touch with Regus it stated it was not responsible for the Earls Road property.