Budding drivers will still be able to pass their tests in Callander, thanks to an agreement between the Callander Youth Project and the DVSA.
Earlier this year the DVSA announced that the current testing facility based at the McLaren Leisure Centre was going to close on May 23rd. Despite calls from Local Cllr Martin Earl and Stirling MP Stephen Kerr that the decision be reversed and a petition launched by local Driving Instructor Grant Wallace, the closure went ahead.
Concerns were raised about the distances candidates taking lessons and driving tests would have to cover when the nearest facility was in Stirling. This would seriously affect people in rural areas and could mean a three hour round trip to take a lesson in the area where the test would take place.
After the original announcement and initial correspondence there was a series of meetings and correspondence between the MPs Office, Cllr Earl, and the DVSA to identify a way testing could remain available in Callander. Cllr Earl approached the Callander Youth Project and arranged for discussions to take place between them and DVSA.
This resulted in a visit to assess the location and premises and a subsequent agreement that an initial three month trial period would be run before a longer term arrangement is established.
Martin Earl said:-
I am absolutely delighted that we have managed to retain a test centre in Callander. You can get a positive result sometimes by making sure everyone keeps talking and there is a will to find a way. The Youth project were very happy to help and everyone involved has worked hard to make this possible. I know many people , including my son and daughter, who have learnt to drive and passed their tests in Callander and I wanted that choice to stay available for everyone in the area.
Stephen Kerr said.
Grant contacted myself and Martin to raise the problem and organise a petition and we kept working together to achieve this positive outcome. The original decision would have led to a real gap in service for people in the rural areas, precisely where being able to drive is often an essential requirement. A solution had to be found.
Mark Griffiths from Callander Youth Project said :-
"I believe the closure of the Callander Test Centre disproportionately disadvantaged young people in the wider area which Callander Youth Project Trust(CYP)serves by increasing social isolation and placing further barriers to employment. CYP are therefore delighted to be able to help retain the Driving Test Centre in Callander"
Driving Instructor Grant Wallace said :-
When I first heard of the closure of the test centre I felt I had to fight for what I believed in and for existing and future pupils. Councillor Martin Earl and MP Stephen Kerr have worked tirelessly so people can take their driving test locally and not have to travel long distances. I'm really proud of what we have achieved. A huge thanks to the Callander youth project for having a vision as well to see this is a huge asset for our local community. We have had so much support from everyone especially the youth who this directly affects. Hopefully this will show them that fighting for what we believe in can sometimes get a result.