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Blog of events happening to and around Lightning Motorcycle Training in 2008

DECEMBER 2008 - The consultation looks very much a fore gone conclusion as the DSA are unlikely to have more than 45 MPTC's ready before the end of March (which is still less than they forecast for October 2008 so we should not get too excited about the veracity of these claims). However, what is interesting is that the date for the introduction of the new test has slipped to the 24th April 2009. This has been done after much was said about how there was no way the new test could be delayed any later. Why did it move? Because the DSA have not managed to get their IT ready in time for the new test! Additionally the DSA have simply slipped the date in without making any kind of formal announcement - if you ever wondered how close "safe driving" was to the hearts of the DSA this piece of "politicking" sums it up nicely. Presentation over substance is the watch phrase here.

From a training school's point of view we are being asked to make our business plans etc with four weeks notice. Understandably we consider this to be neither reasonable nor fair.

Despite all the adverse talk of recession and redundancy we have seen our busiest December yet, and as we enter our tenth year the number of people who train with us continues to grow. And congratulations to Gordon Holloway who has passed his Cardington Supervisory Grade for CBT; well done chap!

NOVEMBER 2008 - As if we haven't all been messed about by the Driving Standards Agency enough they have now issued a consultation asking if we would like the test split into two parts (as if we have a choice!). This will apparently ease the distance that some people will have to travel to take the test, however, it has some unwanted implications too. Firstly, you will have to be taken to the test centre twice and that will have a cost implication and secondly unless there are at least three working days between your first test and the second test you will lose the second test fee (£70.00). On top of this the DSA have proposed to hike the test fee for both parts of the test to a total of £90.00 - which is a 12% increase in 12 months. This is clearly outrageous and combined with the two part test will put further pressure on the public to find the funds to take a motorcycle test.

The DSA are oft quoted as saving they are self financing; this is utter nonsense. They charge a test fee to cover their costs, and this test fee is set in a complete monopoly - nobody else can offer cheaper tests. There is no incentive to save money by the DSA, in fact all the evidence seems to suggest that they go to quite extraordinary lengths to waste money. Happy Christmas from the DSA - not!

OCTOBER 2008 - Welcome to Mark Rowse who has joined us to deal with our ever increasing work load. To date we have trained well in excess of 12,000 students since we started. Predictably October has been very busy due to the delay in the law change; but has been made exceedingly chaotic by the DSA's last minute decision to try and move all the tests left, right and centre. To everyone's credit we have managed this with no hic cups, but in the words of Roger Waters: "It's not easy banging your head against some mad bugger's wall".

SEPTEMBER 2008 - Absolutely unbelievably with only two weeks notice the DSA have postponed the new test until the end of March 2009. The DSA have held a series of meeting with the training schools, which were largely acrimonious, at which they promised to listen to the training industry. The reality is that they will make absolutely sure that they do not leave themselves so exposed to litigation come next March. Even so credit where credit is due, it was a brave choice and given what a disaster it was about to be, the right choice. So well done DSA, and to everyone who perhaps didn't get the chance to take their test in time there is an extra six months to get it done.

AUGUST 2008 - An awful month with endless 'phone calls from people we did not have places to give. We have covered every test centre in southern England from Warwick to Winchester, the staff have worked every hour they can and we have used every resource we have got. Well done to all the staff, but particularly well done to Ben who has had to manage the diary and deal with the 'phone and the myriad of little details that go with booking a course. Thanks Ben!

JULY 2008 - This month ended with there being just 13 tests left before the 29th September. We have tried everything possible to get as much availability as we can however, as ever the DSA have sunk to the challenge. We still do not know where our local test centre will be, what the times for the new test are and what days of the week they will be run. The DSA has delayed making these announcements twice; so at present the earliest we will know for sure is six weeks before the new test is due to take place. The level of incompetence at the DSA has reached a new low. We consider that the CEO - Rosemary Thew should resign in recognition of the utter chaos the DSA has brought to the industry.

JUNE 2008 - Hello to Gordon Holloway, Dave Goodwin and Steve Smith all of whom have joined to help deal with the absolutely huge demand for motorcycle training. Sadly, Terry Welch leaves us to take up a more senior post with a training school in Wales. We wish him all the best.

MAY 2008 - Celebrity month! Lightning has been secretly training a top celebrity. Happily he passed. This month we have been investing in Honda CBF500's fitted with ABS (anti-lock brakes) which we think will give our students the best chance for the proposed new test. Sadly we have been forced to pass on the outrageous cost of fuel onto our course prices. We hope that our customers understand that this is not really something we can avoid.

APRIL 2008 - Welcome to Paul Williams who joins as a motorcycle instructor. This month we have been practising the manoeuvres for the new test. We are fortunate in that we can perform all the new manoeuvres on our large training sites. This means that we will not have to pass the cost onto our customers.

MARCH 2008 - We have started to replace our fleet of Yamaha SR125's with new AJS Eco 125's - very nice they are too. Pass rate so far this year is 83% with well over 290 CBT's and 110 tests taken so far. Bit worried about July, August and September gulp!

FEBRUARY 2008 - Already we are very busy. After a bit of restructure we have settled for Jonathan Harrison as our new Chief Instructor and Michael Palmer as our Senior Instructor. Welcome to Terry Welch who has been known to Lightning Motorcycle Training for over 10 years; he is seriously "old-school" as he started as an instructor in 1992. If you see a violently tank slapping Suzuki TL1000 it is probably Terry, but don't worry he likes it like that.

JANUARY 2008 - The Final Countdown! Well not quiet but this is the year that we see the most changes to the motorcycle test for 10 years. The DSA had a large meeting with the nation's training schools at the National Motorcycle Museum. It was a mixed bag - the new test looks very interesting and in many ways presents a fairer way of testing people with relatively straight forward objectives. As a training school we do not expect this to significantly add to the overall cost or training required (about an extra £70.00 in costs and an extra half day in training). Alas the implementation of the new test is an absolute fiasco. The DSA are proposing to introduce the new test with less than half of the new network of test centres operational; so the current 200+ centres will be replaced with about 30 if we are lucky. To be absolutely honest the DSA are seriously proposing that we lube up and bend forward! In their own words we can "go on holiday" until all the new test centres are opened. Happily we will use our "holiday" period, if it comes to it, to sit outside car test centres, lobby MP's and all the normal stuff that goes with bringing the government to account. Be absolutely certain that this implementation is compliance for compliance's sake and that not one person will have their life saved by this, and far more likely that people will go unlicensed and untrained as a result and deaths will rise.

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