Learner drivers in Kirklees are facing some of the longest waits for driving tests in the UK.

Driving instructors say waits of over four months for both Huddersfield and Heckmondwike test centres are causing them a headache – and pushing up costs for learners.

Fartown-based instructor Pete Tiernan, chairman of Huddersfield & District Driving Instructors’ Association, said waiting times had hit 17 weeks at Huddersfield which was “far too long.”

Mr Tiernan said the waiting times were as low as four weeks only a year or two ago but they had climbed steadily since.

He blamed a shortage of examiners, the slow process of recruiting new staff and new contracts which prevented the payment of overtime to examiners.

“Because of the long wait times we have to book the test well in advance of pupils reaching test standard,” said Mr Tiernan.

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“If the pupil has any problems in the mean time and doesn’t attain test standard – maybe due to illness or holidays or whatever – then we might need to push the test back.

“Booking another test means that’ll be 34 weeks – more than half a year – to wait. Pupils then have to decide whether to continue with weekly lessons or pick them up again nearer the test but that can become expensive for pupils and a diary headache for instructors.”

Mr Tiernan said new contracts for examiners meant overtime payments had been scrapped. If examiners worked on a Saturday they would take time off in lieu instead.

According to the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) website the centres in Waverley Road, Huddersfield, and High Street, Heckmondwike, have the highest waiting times of 10 test centres within a 16-mile radius of Huddersfield.

DSA Driving Test Centre, Waverley House, Huddersfield.

Bradford (Heaton) and Horsforth have a wait of 16 weeks while the wait in Halifax is 15 weeks. Lowest waiting times are to be found in Bradford (Thornbury) and Barnsley, both 11 weeks. No waiting time is available for the Wakefield centre at Silkwood Park, Ossett.

The situation appears similar across Yorkshire though waiting times on the coast are lower, just a week in Bridlington and six weeks in Scarborough.

A random search by the Examiner of the some of the UK’s biggest cities found only two higher than Kirklees, a 20-week waiting time in London and 18 weeks in Birmingham.

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Mr Tiernan said the Huddersfield centre had five instructors working a five-day week, conducting seven tests each per day.

That meant a total of 175 tests a week so a 17-week wait meant 2,975 people in the queue.

Another experienced instructor, Mrs Vivien Lees-Hamilton, of Mirfield, said the problems were replicated countrywide despite a pledge from the DVSA that waiting times should be just six to eight weeks.

She said she had heard rumours of a ‘black market’ in driving tests which were booked by unscrupulous instructors and “swapped among pupils like a merry-go-round.” She added: “How much is factual and how much is exaggeration I don’t know but if it’s true it’s not right.”

Peter Tiernan, chairman, Huddersfield & District Driving Instructor's Association.

Test cancellations are also hoovered up by internet re-sellers who charge as much as £14 on top of the £62 test fee.

DVSA head of operations, Phil Lloyd, said: “The increase in demand for driving tests is continuing, and we acknowledge that waiting times are currently higher than we would like in some of our locations.

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“We are working to address this as quickly as possible and will continue with further examiner recruitment campaigns throughout 2016.

“Recruitment campaigns across Great Britain in 2015 resulted in 193 new examiners starting work at test centres between April 2015 and Mar 2016.

“From April 2016 a further 44 examiners have started at test centres and we have made offers to an additional 114 people, who are currently either attending the new entrant training course, or awaiting to attend.”