FEARS that the driving test centre in Skibbereen is to be downgraded, and then closed, have been rejected as ‘absolute nonsense,’ by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
‘I don’t know how this rumour started, but the RSA is not closing Skibbereen,’ said its head of communications Brian Farrell.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) raised the issue at a meeting of the Western Division on Monday and Independent TD Michael Collins raised the issue in the Dáil on Tuesday.
Both claimed that the redeployment of a ‘tester’ on December 23rd is likely to diminish the service. They also said there are concerns that the service is to be reduced from five days a week to one week per month.
According to Deputy Collins, the online application process now shows that waiting times for tests have increased from eight weeks to almost six months.
But Brian Farrell claimed: ‘That is utter nonsense too. I can confirm that the waiting time for a driving test in Skibbereen is currently 12 weeks, which is among the lowest in the country.’
He said there are currently 173 candidates who have been scheduled to take a driving test in Skibbereen in the coming weeks.
‘A further 439 are waiting for an invite to sit a test,’ he added. ‘And there are a further 235 candidates who, while they have applied, are not eligible to sit a test as they have not completed their mandatory 12 essential driver training lessons – or the six month rule hasn’t expired.’
Mr Farrell said the RSA is ‘working to maintain a 10-week waiting time’ and, in a bid to manage the demand right across the country, they deploy staff to ‘hotspots’.
‘That is the strategy we have always used, so there will be times when there are extra staff and sometimes there will be less,’ said Mr Farrell.
‘We also have sanction to recruit an extra 30 permanent members of staff and we are confident that we will get the waiting times down,’ he explained.
‘The Road Safety Authority can confirm that there is absolutely no truth to the politicians’ comments,’ he added.
‘The RSA will continue to service the Skibbereen Driving Test centre, either via staff headquartered in Skibbereen, or from resources based elsewhere, such as in Cork, as demand requires,’ he said.
However, this week Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF) Cllr Karen Coakley (Ind) and Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) all agreed that the Council should take a stand and send a letter to the RSA asking for clarification.