NORTH Kirklees is the best place to learn how to drive, an instructor has claimed after the area was ‘shamed’ for its low pass rate.
New figures from the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) show only 39.8 per cent of learners pass at the Heckmondwike Test Centre, inset.
And five candidates, all women aged from 35 to 48, spent almost £10,000 on 158 driving tests between them before passing.
One failed 33 times while two others passed at the 33rd attempt, placing them among the worst 20 learners in the UK. Now driving instructor Coun Vivien Lees-Hamilton, who herself needed three attempts to pass at Heckmondwike, has defended the area.
She said test routes around the district are full of blind spots, hills, bends, tight Victorian streets and traffic congestion.
Coun Lees-Hamilton (Con, Mirfield) is both a Kirklees and Mirfield town councillor and is the current Mayor of Mirfield.
She said: “It’s not the easiest place to pass your test but it’s the best place to learn how to drive.
“We’ve got everything here, from the infrastructure the Victorians left us to the Drighlington bypass.
“And there’s the interchange at Gildersome, where drivers have to negotiate mis-matched lanes, which I’ve complained to the Highways Agency about.
“It’s challenging, but a fantastic learning opportunity for new drivers. They learn how to read the road in any situation.”
The practical driving test, lasting about 40 minutes, costs £62 to take on a weekday or £75 on an evening, weekend or bank holiday.
A DSA spokesman said: “Some people may take more lessons and be better prepared for the test.
“However, each one is conducted to the same strict requirements. We train examiners to a high standard.
“And we closely monitor their work to ensure that all tests are assessed consistently across the country.”