BOURNEMOUTH’S driving test centre will remain closed permanently.

Learner drivers will have to travel to Poole, Southampton, Salisbury or Dorchester to take their tests following the announcement by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

The Gillam Road centre has been closed since February due to a flooding problem but driving instructors in the area believed it would reopen.

Now they have been informed the closure is permanent.

They were told: “Following a detailed independent survey, we’ve taken the difficult decision to not re-open the test centre as a result of the prohibitive repair costs.

"Candidates should continue to book tests at Poole driving test centre, where they’ll be better tested on all parts of the new test, helping make Dorset roads even safer.

“To meet demand for testing, we’ll be refurbishing and extending the test centre building in Poole.”

Deborah Axworthy, chairman of the Bournemouth and District Driving Instructors Association, said she and her fellow instructors plan to fight the decision.

She told the Daily Echo: “There are a lot of extra costs involved for instructors and pupils because they need to drive in Poole to get familiar with the area.

“People are failing their tests because they are not properly prepared so they are having to wait longer to get a new test.”

She said traffic congestion in the area means it costs more to have a lesson which includes parts of Poole if you live in areas such as Ringwood, Christchurch or Verwood.

But DVSA Operations Director Richard Hennessey said: “DVSA’s priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving.

“Traffic congestion in Bournemouth means that by moving tests to Poole we will be able to better test candidates on all parts of the new driving test, helping make Dorset roads even safer.

“It is vital that learners are prepared to drive safely on all types of road before taking their test, rather than simply learning driving test centre routes.”

The DVSA plans to hold a meeting for local driving instructors on Wednesday August 28 at Kinson Community Centre at 7pm to allow them to ask questions about the relocation.

Ms Axworthy said she and other instructors plan to lobby MPs about the decision and said a petition is already up and running at