THE DEFERRAL. A U TURN TOO LATE
Having just attended the MPTC Outreach event in Harrogate, I feel compelled to write to let people know what is going on. It was hosted by a fairly heavyweight delegation from the DSA including their Chief Executive Rosemary Thew.
I have come away from the event more concerned about the implementation of the new motorcycle test than before, and more disillusioned about the DSAs ability as an organisation to provide it.
This deferment came about because of lack of coverage and the unsafe and unacceptable distances people would have to travel. In January this year at a trainer’s conference I posed the question. “If the MPTC programme is not ready is it still going ahead in October?” The DSA categorically stated it would. No deferment, no change! So this organisation has misled us all year. Their response this time is the same, no plans for further deferment before March 2009. By their own admission they will only manage to have a handful of extra MPTC’s ready. So by March next year if you are in an area of the country still in the same position as now, they will impose the test on you when it is still too far away and unsafe to travel to.
This sort of reply gives you a very uneasy feeling about the organisation in charge. If this is true then they are showing total disdain to the British public they are supposed to provide a service to. Or are they misleading us all again? (Watch this space!)
The other issue is provision. With the closure of so many local test centres the new reduced programme cannot cope with demand. Availability of tests dramatically reduced and waiting times escalated well beyond the DSA mandate to provide. The trainer booking system they have in place is incapable of dealing with it.
The way this should happen is to produce criteria for implementation. This must be agreed at consultation, and only when that is met should this be imposed on the British public. Well we have one and it is the usual political swing where the word “most” is used. The DSA criteria is that travel time should be no more than 30-45 minutes and distance no more than 20 miles. They are basically covering their corner and can claim they have met their target because “most” of the British public can achieve this. No figures, no percentage of population just the word “most”. This is unacceptable and should be measured and quantifiable. This should apply to the entire country not “most” of it. This is what was understood at initial consultation. It is the reason most training schools and independent concerns accepted the DSA’s proposed format on such an important issue.
This has already cost the industry millions of pounds, and local businesses have spent fortunes getting ready for a test that has not happened. Delegates told of how they had modified bikes, upgraded fleets so they could attain the dramatic acceleration and speed necessary. Training schools have purchased vans and trailers ready to ferry bikes hundreds of miles to test centres, all for it to change at the eleventh hour. 17 days prior to D day was when the decision to defer was made. 6 months is not going to change a lot. The deferment should have been 2 months ago and for a minimum of 12 months. It has even sent the DSA’s systems into melt down, no one can book a test at the moment and their examiners have not got a clue where they will be working in 2 weeks time. However the DSA have no need to worry, they are planning on recouping their losses. The test fee is going to rise to £80 from the 29 Sep 08, regardless of the fact students will not be taking the new test. This was a shock to us all. We assumed if they are not providing the service they cannot charge us for it, with any other business in the world this could not happen. Why are the monopolies and mergers commission not investigating this? How can an organisation with such a profound monopoly charge what they like for a service they are not providing!
To the training industry this deferment is a huge relief but we are still on death row. I fear that in 6 months time in large areas of the country that knock on the cell door and final walk will come. Or maybe we will have another u turn and spend a month in total chaos again. The organisation in charge of this is responsible for the testing of the nation’s future drivers and riders, and an independent inquiry should now take place into the implementation of this event.
Written Sep 08