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Community / Driving theory test centres to open in Whalsay and Yell

Meanwhile Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael claims the DVSA is “indifferent towards the views of local communities”

An aerial view of Whalsay. Photo: Ivan Reid

Update: the DVSA has now confirmed a test centre will still be located in Lerwick.

SHETLAND’s driving theory test centre will move from Lerwick to the islands of Whalsay and Yell from next month.

It follows the government agency Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) pressing ahead with unpopular plans to move Shetland’s site for motorbike and lorry training and testing from Lerwick to Scatsta.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has accused the DVSA of having a “disgraceful attitude towards local communities” as it continues to shake-up how it operates in Shetland.

The move from Lerwick to Scatsta Airport has already resulted in Shetland’s only motorbike instructor saying he will be closing his long-running business.

It has also raised serious doubts over the future of Drive Shetland, which offers vocational training.

But the move of theory tests from Lerwick to two islands from 6 September has raised even more eyebrows.

The test centre at the Islesburgh Community Centre will close on 3 September.

They will now take place within the Whalsay and Yell leisure centres, which will require ferry trips.

The DVSA has said the plan is to ensure greater accessibility of test centres in rural areas.

While this will reduce travelling time for some, Carmichael said the better solution in this instance would be for a third test centre in Lerwick.

Meanwhile the Scatsta situation has been rumbling on for a number of years, ever since it was confirmed the old Anderson High School site would be redeveloped by the council.

Hopes for an alternative site on the outskirts of Lerwick fell through over costs, leading to the DVSA picking space at Scatsta, which stopped being used as an airport last year.

But the distance from Lerwick is a key factor in why instructors are not keen on the site, which has been in the hands of the DVSA since the start of August.

Carmichael has been involved in talks with the DVSA on the matter since the issue around the old Anderson site came to light a number of years ago.

Instructors have praised his involvement in the situation but after a meeting on Tuesday it appears the DVSA will continue with its Scatsta plans.

“The DVSA have known that this was going to be a problem for years,” Carmichael said regarding the Scatsta move.

“They have dragged their feet in that time. The only solution that they have come up with is the one that is not acceptable to local instructors. As a consequence one has already stopped training and the other will probably follow soon.

“The agency has a disgraceful attitude towards local communities and only engage in their terms. They are indifferent towards the views of local communities.

“Ministers who should be holding them to account seem clueless as to the scale and nature of the cultural problem that exists within the DVSA.”

A spokesperson for the DVSA said in response to the Scatsta concerns: “DVSA has always been committed to provide a testing service provision on Shetland for local people whilst balancing costs and managing public money.

“We have been, and continue to be, extremely grateful for the help and support the council has given us in finding a suitable site, which works both operationally and financially, from which to conduct motorcycle module one and vocational tests.”