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Motorcycle centre axe plan criticised

PUBLISHED: 09:55 08 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:41 05 July 2010

Plans to shut an east coast motorcycle test centre have come under fire from an instructor, who fears for the safety of learner riders having to travel further to Norwich.

Plans to shut an east coast motorcycle test centre have come under fire from an instructor, who fears for the safety of learner riders having to travel further to Norwich.

Strict new EU guidelines mean elements of the motorcycle test will have to take place at off-road sites, leaving many centres, such as the one at Lowestoft, redundant.

Paul Alcock, who runs the Anglia Rider Training school from sites at Lowestoft and Yarmouth, has launched a campaign calling for the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to reconsider its plans and find an additional site in the east coast area.

He said: “The riders will have to go through two accident blackspots - the Barnby Bends and the Acle Straight - to get to Norwich. If they fail their test they've got to come back to Lowestoft or Yarmouth when mentally they shouldn't be riding a motorbike. All we are asking for is a part-time motorcycle test centre in Yarmouth or Lowestoft.

Under EU law, the tests will comprise more demanding tasks, which have to be completed at the new sites before the rider can progress to the on-road element.

The DSA runs 200 test centres across the UK, but this will be reduced to just 66 by the time the new law is enforced on September 29. The process of building new off-road centres is costing the DSA about £70m. The Norwich base will be at the Broadland Business Park.

The DSA's aim is that no learner rider should have to travel more than 20 miles or for longer than 45 minutes to get to a test centre. While trainees from Yarmouth fall just within this, those from the Lowestoft area do not.

Mr Alcock, who puts about 200 riders a year through their tests, has met officials from the DSA and local MPs Bob Blizzard and Tony Wright in a bid to find a solution. There is no potential to expand the current site at Rishton House in the centre of Lowestoft. Mr Alcock feared the changes would also harm the trade of training schools in the coastal area.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: “I will continue to push the DSA to have a test centre in the area.”

DSA spokesman Ray Colesby said officials had sympathy with the trainees but they had looked for alternative sites in the Lowestoft and Yarmouth areas without success.

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