Contacting the Driving Standards Agency
How difficult do you think it is to get an interview with the Driving Standards Agency about changes to the driving test? When we read this morning about a new "independent driving" section to be introduced in October and that some of the driving schools were opposed to it, we thought it might be worth a few minutes of airtime. It's what we call in the office a "quick hit" - a well-founded, easily understood, on-the-day story which can be brought to the You and Yours midday wicket, with a minimum of fuss.
We phoned the Driving Standards Agency Press Office at around 9am who thought an interview should be possible and we started putting the other elements in place. Various phone calls to the DSA followed during the morning where, without guaranteeing an interview we were told they had a willing interviewee who was available at the time we needed them.
But still no final confirmation came through. Until 11.55am (with the item due to start ten minutes later) a somewhat embarrassed press officer informed us there would be no interview as the necessary "permissions" had not been obtained. There was no indication of what these permissions were or who was responsible for granting them.
So senior bods at the Driving Standards Agency - strap line Safe Drivers For Life - an executive agency which is part of the Motoring and Freight Services Group within the Department of Transport, turnover £190-million - can't talk publicly about driving tests without permission. And it takes more than three hours to get permission.
My hope that interviews with public organisations, which were citing "election purdah" as a reason not to take part in the programme a few weeks ago, might be easier to obtain once polling day was out of the way, may have been somewhat optimistic. I'll keep you posted.