North MSP asks more questions on the Scottish Driving Assessment Service
18th February 2015
Highlands & Islands MSP (including Moray),Shadow Minister for Transport and Islands and also road safety campaigner, David Stewart, earlier this month raised the issue of the location of the only Scottish Driving Assessment Centre in Scotland now being based in Edinburgh. He wrote to DVLA and the Secretary of State for Transport, the RT Hon Patrick McLoughlin. Today he received a response from NHS Lothian Parliamentary Liaison Officer as NHS Lothian manage the system on behalf of the DVLA in Scotland.
David Stewart said " I am being advised that the Scottish Government previously provided joint funding, but in 2010/2011 part of this funding was removed and in 2012/2013 the Government provided the additional funding again on the understanding that all the Scottish NHS Boards came to an understanding on the longer term funding needs".
“In August 2013, after various meetings, it was decided that the previous system with mobile services servicing Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Irvine Paisley and Dumfries was inefficient with waiting time of up to 44 weeks. The decision was taken to remove the mobile service and have the one centre in Edinburgh”.
He went on “ I understand that the waiting list is now down to 13 weeks. I am all for being efficient and effective, but I wonder just how many drivers that need to be assessed, especially after illness, make the effort to go to Edinburgh. We are talking here about people who have to travel from the Western Isles and Northern Isles and the North of Scotland. Who covers all their expenses and is it the case that the waiting list has reduced because the people I have just described are not prepared to travel to Edinburgh to be assessed”.
“ There is a bigger picture here. We have rural isolation to deal with. People in the scattered communities need to be able to get about. To some in the far corners of North Scotland just travelling to Inverness is a major journey, never mind having to go all the way to Edinburgh, so today I have lodged Parliamentary Questions asking what additional support is being offered to people from remote areas who need to be reassessed. I am also asking what the funding arrangements are for this centre in Edinburgh and whether the Government has any plans to review and reintroduce mobile driving Assessment Centres”.