THE town’s politicians have vowed to fight on to keep Barry’s Driving Test Centre open, after its closure was confirmed this week.

The busy office on Dock View Road is to be redeveloped into flats in January, and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is not looking for a replacement site, saying it will integrate the office with the Cardiff branch.

Paul Clark, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State with ministerial responsibility for the DSA, wrote to Vale AM Jane Hutt confirming the news a few days ago.

Ms Hutt said: "As the largest town in Wales, Barry needs its own Test Centre.

“We know that reliance on a Cardiff Test Centre would be costly for candidates as well as local driving instructors. “Furthermore, at a time of economic downturn, it is vital that we support our young people in acquiring skills such as driving competence, which will enhance their employability.

“I will therefore be making further representations, including writing to the Minister, to request that he visit Barry to discuss this issue further.”

Vale Cllr Chris Elmore, Labour member for Castleland, has also demanded the DSA discuss an alternative location.

He said, "The news that the DSA is determined to close the Test Centre is extremely disappointing.

“They are faceless bureaucrats who have no understanding of the needs of Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan – they will not even consider the offer from the Vale Council of alternative sites.

“To me it appears that closure is the only option being actively considered by the DSA.

"The Vale Council offered two sites within Barry and I had been in discussions with the Business Centre in Barry about an alternative site - and all this has so far been ignored by the DSA.

“I hope that even at this late stage, the DSA will sit around the table with the Vale Council and others who want to help retain this vital service for Barry."

Barry-based driving instructors who learned of the planned closure back in October say the move will bring chaos on the roads, as learner drivers from the Vale will be forced to take their tests in Bridgend or Cardiff.

Wayne Strong, who has been an instructor in Barry for 25 years, said: "All these pupils will have to take their test in Cardiff, which means lots of trial runs in Cardiff.

“It’s the getting there, the getting back - iIt will take a lot of time and fuel, which will drive up costs for pupils.

"More than that – who wants 50 learner drivers on Culverhouse Cross roundabout at 4pm? They will be breaking, stalling – someone hasn’t thought this through."

A spokesperson for the DSA denied it was a cost saving measure.

He said: "The centre at Barry does not offer the services we would wish to offer our customers and the premises do not have the benefit of off-street parking. "The nearest alternative centre to Barry is at Cardiff, which at a distance of approximately 7.7 miles is within the 20 mile travel distance criterion applicable to the area.

“In addition to Cardiff, another alternative within the travel distance criteria is Bridgend, located approximately 18.5 miles from Barry.

“Operationally, these centres meet the Agency’s requirements in terms of test routes and customer and staff facilities, and have the spare capacity to absorb the diversion of demand from Barry without compromising waiting time service targets."