Any half decent driver will already be aware of the shocking behaviour of many people who use the roads. If you drive for a living – especially if you are considered to be a “professional” driver – apart from the fact that you use the roads more and you see more, you’re also likely to notice more.
Regular readers will know that I often publish registration numbers of people I’ve witnessed behaving badly on the roads. It makes me feel a lot better, and the jackasses involved can’t really make an issue out of it because I simply state the truth – they were driving as I describe (and the camera doesn’t lie). However, two similar events this morning got me wondering if the owners of companies are aware of the potential damage being done to their businesses by the Neanderthals they seem to employ to drive their vehicles.
These companies probably spend a fortune in time and money on advertising, a decent website, or a lot of arseing about on social media (I’ve never understood how a “professional” can migrate their entire business to Facebook – it’s almost as logical as my previous “professional” company’s decision to switch their official font from Times New Roman to Comic Sans), and yet the negative impact just one monkey in one of their vans can have doesn’t seem to be something they even consider.
Speaking for myself, I will quite happily boycott a company (or a particular outlet) if I get poor service. For example, I will never again set foot in the new McDonalds branch in Clifton as a result of the absolutely crap service from the moment it opened. For similar reasons, I will never use KFC in Colwick, because if there is even one person (or car) in the queue you’re looking at a minimum 10-minute wait (longer in most cases) per person, most of it because the spotty-faced oiks who frequent most KFC branches get to the front of the queue before even starting to consider what they might want. The drive-thru ordering intercom is frequently broken (i.e. vandalised) and the zit-faces in the queue will still take 10 minutes to order while another zit-face on the till writes it all down – and you know that this time the absence of multitasking via the ordering computer means that they will only start to process each order after the piece of paper has been transferred, and after the previous order has been completed. As soon as you see the notepad and pencil being used, that’s the cue to reverse out and go to Greggs, instead.
There are numerous fish and chip shops I won’t use because they’ve never got anything ready. I’ve come to the conclusion that those awards for “best chippie” they all have splurged across banners outside have about as much value as the NVQs my previous company used to issue to shop floor staff for proving they could walk and chew gum at the same time (“equivalent to an ‘A’ Level”, they used to say). They can’t all be “the best”. The only way a chip shop can hope to get one of these meaningless awards for “best chips” is if they cook each batch to order, and you know that that’s exactly what they’re doing it when you see half a dozen or more people standing around inside waiting like a scene out of Dawn of the Dead – which defeats the whole point of going for some chips in the first place. One thing you don’t want to hear when you walk into a chippie is “can I take your order, please?” It means they are putting you in a queue instead of just scooping some ready-prepared chips into a paper bag (Captain Cod on Perry Road, take note). Some of them will try to take your money before informing you that “we’re just waiting for chips”, and it’s got to the point where I specifically ask “have you got chips ready?” when I walk in. If they haven’t I walk out again.
Sandwich shops can be even worse. Often run by a single person, there’s every likelihood that when you go into one she (it’s usually a she) will be trying to fulfil a telephone order for the local building site, and will be in the middle of frying 300 rashers of bacon and 100 eggs on an underpowered electric hob using a normal-sized non-stick frying pan (I’m not making that up, either – Greedy Guts on Woodborough Road take note). You might get a sideways glance from her (or him) if you’re lucky, (The Cob Shop on Andover Road and Munch Bites on Nottingham Road, both in Basford, and Spoilt For Choice on Cinder Hill Road take note). And there’s usually some filthy-looking retard standing in the doorway smoking wherever you go, and I absolutely detest the smell of cigarettes when I’m around food.
But I digress. If they were the types of companies I was ever likely to use, Aspley Workwear and Midland Commercial Cleaners would now be on my list of places never to do business with. And all because of the most horrendous behaviour by respective drivers of two of their vans this week. Undertaking, speeding, and tail-gating are three things that do it for me.
Original story published 7 January 2015, updated October 2015. Updated again as a result of Evans’ successful appeal as of April 2016 and subsequent date for retrial in October 2016.
I’ve been trying to steer clear of this, but I can’t. Before I start let me make one thing absolutely clear: RAPE IS WRONG.
For anyone who’s been living in a cave, Ched Evans is a footballer who used to play for Sheffield United. A couple of years ago he was convicted of rape and sent to prison for five years. He’s served about half of that sentence and is now out on probation. He is trying to rebuild his career. Initially, it looked like Sheffield Utd would take him back, but there was an outcry and they backed down. A Maltese club wanted to sign him, but the Ministry of Justice said he couldn’t play abroad. Currently, Oldham Athletic are in talks about whether or not to sign him, but they are under intense pressure not to.
Evans still maintains his innocence, even though he was convicted. He is preparing an appeal.
The reason I have decided to comment on this very sensitive issue is down to this article I saw today on the BBC website. Of course, the first thing I did was locate the Jean Hatchet blog mentioned in that article – it’s here, if anyone wants a look.
What immediately struck me about the blog – and in all honesty, I just wanted to see a selection of Jean Hatchet’s writings to find out what sort of things she wrote about – was that in spite of the BBC’s label describing her as “a blogger” she has, at the time of writing, only actually published five articles. The first was produced in November last year – less than three months ago, which hardly makes Hatchet the fount of all blogging knowledge the BBC story implies. All five posts are essentially foul-mouthed rants, and all but one of them is specifically to do with Ched Evans, with the other one certainly being along related lines. Jean Hatchet’s main claim to fame (other than being a self-proclaimed “radical feminist”), and the main reason the BBC sought her out (though being a self-proclaimed “radical feminist” was undoubtedly part of the equation), is that she is the one who started the online petition that is trying to force Oldham not to sign Evans. I have no doubt that she would start any number of additional petitions if any other football club showed an inclination to sign the player.
On her blog, Hatchet makes the following statement:
It is evident that Mr Evans, and men like him, do not understand the notion of consent.
This is the crux of Evans’ conviction. The girl he is said to have raped was allegedly out of her skull on drink. She had already gone with one of Evans’ friends – presumably while she was still capable of thinking and walking – and was having sex with him when Evans turned up and joined in. The friend was acquitted, but Evans wasn’t. The girl says she couldn’t remember any of what happened. The whole situation is far from being black or white, except in terms of the Law and Evans’ subsequent conviction.
The issue with “consent” is far more complex than Hatchet seems capable of realising. You see, it is absolutely possible for a woman to consent to sex with a man, then to have regrets the following day and make allegations concerning non-consensual intercourse (possibly throwing in a few comments about being drunk). Intercourse may not even have taken place for such claims to be made, and the motive may well be financial gain or some sort of retribution, but it will immediately be labelled as “rape”. The man’s name will automatically be published in every newspaper in the land, whereas the woman will automatically be granted full anonymity. Even in cases where the woman is proved to be lying – and it happens quite often – her anonymity often remains in force, yet the man’s life is in ruins. But what makes this even more frightening is that Hatchet (and, increasingly, the Law) actually seem to believe that that rape of some sort has still taken place… if not in actuality, very nearly so.
At this point I will say again: RAPE IS WRONG. If a man forces himself on a woman, he should rot in prison for a long time. But should that still be the case if there is any doubt at all over consent?
The girl involved in the Ched Evans case is no exception as far as official anonymity goes (she’s even been given a new identity). However, it isn’t difficult to find her name (it actually appears in Hatchet’s blog in several of the comments). Assuming that what I have read has even a grain of truth in it, the woman in question appears to have a previous (failed) history for attempting to blackmail sportsmen. At the very least, she went willingly with Evans’ friend and was not quite so comatose when the friend picked her up in the chip shop or wherever it was. Much is being made of the fact that she was possibly – not definitely – around two and a half times over the drink drive limit, but that doesn’t automatically mean you are unconscious. It also appears that the girl in question tweeted that she was “going to win big” on the run up to the trial, and made various promises to friends about how she would spend the money on them. If you Google it you can dig all this up – including the tweets that the girl had apparently attempted to delete (and it is worrying that the new identity she has been given is perhaps partly an attempt to side-step this Twitter history without actually considering any of it). I’m not aware that any of this was brought up in court. Interestingly, Welsh police arrested 23 people for naming the victim, and to date nine have been convicted. The full case is described on Wikipedia, though you can see numerous side stories in the media.
None of this proves that the judgement against Evans was wrong, of course, but it does make you wonder. Well, maybe not those like Jean Hatchet, but certainly normal people. The girl who was apparently raped certainly didn’t seem to have had her life damaged the way rape victims’ lives usually are judging by her tweets, and that doesn’t make any sense. The point is that this wasn’t a case of a man kidnapping a woman in the street, dragging her into an alley, and forcibly raping her. It’s much greyer, and as I say it all hinges on the issue of consent and the court’s interpretation of that in this particular case. Evans’ guilt appears to have been as marginal as his innocence would have been.
Irrespective of this very important background information, the big question to me is: should Ched Evans be allowed to have any sort of career?
There is one sensible argument that says he should wait for the outcome of his appeal before trying to play professional football again. However, no matter what the outcome of that appeal, Evans will be hounded by the feminists until the day he dies. You see, the big grey area of the Law that deals with the matter of consent has a bottomless chasm on one side (i.e. you’re totally guilty). Unfortunately, on the other side there isn’t the expected “totally innocent”. Instead, there’s another chasm almost as deep as the first which merely says “you’re nearly guilty, but not quite”. Feminists like Jean Hatchet make sure it stays like that with their foul-mouthed tirades.
At the present time, Evans is being prevented from working by people like Hatchet and the British Legal system. Even Ed Miliband has stuck his nose in – all I can say there is that Miliband is bloody lucky that my support of Labour goes deeper than him. Effectively, people would rather Evans die on the street than rebuild his life. Oh, I’m sure that people like Jean Hatchet would argue in favour of the rebuilding that his victim has got to do – and I’d agree… if only the unused evidence didn’t suggest something more.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t know Evans personally, though everything points to the usual problems of a young man acquiring fame and money, and having it go to his head. Even without the issue of rape coming into it, footballers getting involved in sexual activities that are bordering on the realms of pornography are not uncommon. But it takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and young females are increasingly drawn willingly into the same world.
Yesterday (7 January 2015), Oldham had all but signed Evans in the full knowledge that some sponsors would pull out. Today, they have withdrawn the offer due to threats to staff and their families. They cite the sponsors, but the threats are the main reason. The people who made those threats are scum. The worst kind of scum. And the type of scum that is far lower down the evolutionary chain than Evans could ever be.
I see that Ched Evans’ case is going to be reviewed by the Court of Appeal (as of 5 October 2015).
As of 21 April 2016, Ched Evan’s appeal has been successful and his earlier conviction for rape has been quashed.
Reporting restrictions are still in place because he is now back to being “the accused” and will have to be re-tried on the original allegation – but this time, with important and relevant evidence being heard which had been deliberately ignored the last time.
It goes without saying that Jean Hatchet still openly considers him to be guilty. Indeed, in Hatchet’s mind, any man who ever has sex with a woman is guilty of something. In fact, people like Hatchet just need an accusation for guilt to be proven.
Hatchet should maybe try to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty. Even if they are men. The quashing of Evans’ previous conviction means that – at the moment – he is not a convicted rapist, which is more or less the only thing Hatchet ever has to say.
Ched Evans’ retrial is set for October 2016.
Here’s a contender for this year’s Darwin Awards. Kevin Lucas led police in County Durham on a high-speed chase in the dark with no lights on.
He braked repeatedly, causing a police car to hit him on one occasion, took roundabouts the wrong way, drove on the wrong side of the road, and even escaped being corralled by driving at speed along pavements.
He had no insurance and no licence.
When he and his three passengers decided to try and leg it – and in spite of the fact he was seen getting out of the driver’s side of the trainee pratmobile he was in (a Renault Clio) – he claimed:
I wasn’t the driver.
This clearly makes him a front runner for this year’s Darwins. Mind you, when you look at that mug shot you have to wonder if he is eligible, since the Darwin Awards are typically awarded to the higher primates.
The little prick got 15 months for dangerous driving – no doubt to be served concurrently with the 9 months he is in the middle of (and for which he must be out on licence) for assisting an offender. Laughably, his defence lawyer also toyed with the idea of getting himself nominated for a Darwin:
Paul Currer, mitigating, said Lucas had been given valium, with which he was not familiar.
A bit of a mistake, I think. He should have been given something else – something that would do evolution a favour. Valium, on the other hand, appears to make him think he can cut his own hair and nobody will notice.
Note that my references to the Darwin Awards are always my own take, and are not in any way affiliated with the genuine Darwins.
So. Manchester Utd finally sacked Louis van Gaal after he lifted the FA Cup. Mind you, they didn’t tell him. Oh, dearie me, no. That would have been too simple and far too professional.
It seems that Louis learned of his fate from his wife, who had in turn read it on the BBC website on Saturday after the cup final. The Utd hierarchy waited until today to tell him.
What makes me laugh is how the BBC is now talking of his shoddy treatment, yet it was they who gleefully stirred up the shit and created much of the problem – and almost all of the embarrassment.
And the photo below – assuming it was taken on Saturday – is also sickening when you consider what Ferguson must have known at that time.
The truth of the matter is that Manchester Utd were showing significant cracks during Ferguson’s last season in charge. Yes, I know they won the title, but cracks were evident (they went out of the Champions league early on). Since then, it has been fashionable to blame the subsequent lack of success on David Moyes, and now van Gaal – as if Manchester Utd have some God-given right to win everything, every year. It’s bollocks. They had a bunch of players who were past it, but who no one had the guts to get rid of. They didn’t have enough new talent to replace them. That’s why Utd didn’t do so well the following season – finishing 7th.
Van Gaal managed 4th, then 5th this season (though you have to remember that he did win the FA Cup – the last time that happened was more than 10 years ago under Ferguson and they finished 3rd in the league that year). Of course, when the only acceptable outcome is to win everything, that’s unacceptable. This is why van Gaal was sacked.
Louis van Gaal has maintained his integrity throughout this sorry affair. The same can’t we said for Ed Woodward and the Glazers. Or the BBC.
Can you imagine how van Gaal must have felt, going from the FA Cup celebrations at the weekend (with that grinning gargoyle at the side of him), to finding out from his wife via the BBC that he’d lost his job an hour later?
I’ve been seeing these interminable references to “the celebrity” who has managed to get an injunction, gagging the British media from reporting details of him and his partner’s private lives. Initially, I didn’t give a damn. But when I read that Scottish and American – no, wait, everywhere except England, actually – media had reported it I became inquisitive.
It turned out to be bloody easy to find out who it was about, and when it eventually breaks – which is inevitable, given that the injunction looks like it is going to be lifted anyway – you’ll see what a disgusting, seedy mess it is.
At present, only the initials PJS and YMA can be used to identify the main people involved. Neither set of initials is real. However, other people ARE involved. And when you find out who the story is about, that’s when you’ll realise how tragic this whole thing really is.
Celebrities have every right to be left alone. Unfortunately, just by being a celebrity means that unless you live a squeaky clean life, you’re not going to be left alone. The gutter press will hound you over every crack in the pavement you step on. And when something which is as awkward as this one is – with its many implications concerning those involved (and various taboo subjects) – there is no way it isn’t going to go public. Eventually.
Well, the appeal has been upheld – so far. The Sun isn’t at all happy, and neither is the Mail, which has found a slightly different way of dealing with the issue (albeit, in a way which means when it breaks the fallout will be that much worse). There’s some clever word play in both accounts, which make more sense when you know who it is they’re referring to.
Lord Mance said… there was “no public interest (however much it may be of interest to some members of the public) in publishing kiss-and-tell stories or criticisms of private sexual conduct, simply because the persons involved are well-known”.
Former Lib Dem MP John Hemming… said he was surprised by the ruling.
“The logical conclusion of this is that gossip about anyone with children will become a criminal offence subject to a potential penalty of two years’ imprisonment,” he said.
Trust me, there’s a lot more going on here than just that. It’s a form of enforced propaganda of the kind copiously referenced in Orwell’s 1984.
Seriously, you can find it in dozens of online publications with just a few clicks (and a page scroll or two). And the only reason it is in any way interesting is because of the cack-handed attempts to prevent it becoming known.
Incidentally, if you type “google.com/ncr” in your browser address bar you stay with Google.com – not Google.co.uk, which effectively censors out stuff you aren’t meant to see in the UK. The “ncr” stands for “no country redirect”, and it’s a good way of finding news from other countries. You still get UK stuff, but you get a lot more besides.
Where are all those mouthy Spurs supporters who were so cock-sure they’d finish above Arsenal only two weeks ago – and some of whom reckoned Arsenal wouldn’t even finish in the top four?
There was a BBC article with comments enabled, and they were full of themselves. I wonder what they’re thinking now?
Last day of the season, and all the major decisions had already been made. Leicester had won the title – and they bloody well deserved it with the consistent performances they’ve put in throughout the whole season. Aston Villa, Norwich, and Newcastle were relegated. The only parts of the puzzle still undecided were who would get the final Champions League place (Manchester City or Manchester Utd) and who would finish as runners-up (Arsenal or Spurs)?
Arsenal were playing already-relegated Aston Villa, and Spurs were at already-relegated Newcastle. Earlier this week I was praying that Sunderland would still be in a dogfight with Newcastle on the final day so that – in theory – Newcastle would be up for it against Tottenham. But Sunderland condemned the Geordies on Wednesday by beating Everton. So, with Spurs being two points ahead of Arsenal going into the final game everyone assumed that they’d hammer Newcastle, so whatever Arsenal did to Aston Villa wouldn’t matter.
But it didn’t quite turn out as expected. Newcastle absolutely hammered Tottenham with a 5-1 victory. So with Arsenal beating Villa 4-0, the Gunners ended up finishing second!
I was on a lesson with a pupil who is a Spurs fan, and we had the radio on intermittently so we could keep tabs on what was happening. Arsenal had gone one-up within a few minutes, but with Tottenham at 0-0 – and still expecting an easy victory – that didn’t really mean much. Until Newcastle scored. Then scored again. My pupil was gutted when the lesson finished at that point. But as I continued to listen to the match reports as I drove away, it was me who was gutted when Spurs pulled one back, and when Newcastle went down to 10 men I thought that was it.
But Newcastle had other ideas. They scored again. And again. And then, again. They took Tottenham apart.
The only thing I’m hoping for now is that those idiots who keep clamouring for Arsene Wenger to be replaced give it a rest and go back to whatever they do for a living. Arsene is the only man for Arsenal. Period.
How much do Arsenal get for finishing 2nd?
Someone found the blog on that search term. Well, apparently, they will get more than Leicester – as a result of being televised more. They’ll get £101m, compared with Leicester’s £93.3m.
Every team in the Premier League gets a basic £55m. The winner gets another £25m, and each position below that is worth £1,236,083 less. So Leicester got £25m for winning, and Arsenal got £23.7m for coming second (£1,236,083 x 20 places = £25m more or less). Then, each appearance on TV is worth £750,000 (plus a little bit for being on MOTD). Leicester got on TV 15 times, whereas Arsenal were there 27 times!
Arsenal would still have earned the most even if they’d have finished third. The full pay-out table is thus (from the Independent):
1. Arsenal – £101m
2. Manchester City – £96.8m
3. Manchester United – £96.3m (if they finish fifth by either drawing or beating Bournemouth on Tuesday)
4. Tottenham – £95m
5. Leicester – £93m
6. Liverpool – £90.4m
7. Chelsea – £87.1m
8. West Ham – £85.6m
9. Southampton – £84.5m
10. Everton – £82.9m
11. Stoke City – £79m
12. Swansea City – £75.3m
13. Watford – £74.1m
14. West Brom – £73m
15. Newcastle United – £72.7m
16. Crystal Palace – £72.4m
17. Sunderland – £71.7m
18. Bournemouth – £70.4m (if they remain 16th by losing to Manchester United)
19. Norwich City – £66.7m
20. Aston Villa – £66.2m
Check this out – it’s the DVLA’s Vehicle Enquiry Service. You can use it to find out the full status of any vehicle.
It’s still a beta service at the moment, but it looks like it could be useful.
In the words of Kent Brockman, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – democracy simply doesn’t work.
The UK has been the laughing stock of the world recently, with the insane decision to invite the public to suggest names for a new Arctic research ship. Far and away the clear winner was “Boaty McBoatface”. Fortunately, intelligence still clings desperately to bits of wreckage in the ocean of stupidity, some of which is still bobbing around among the idiots who decided to let the public get involved in the first place.
The ship will be called the RRS Sir David Attenborough – which is what it should have been called from the start without having involved people who shouldn’t be allowed to vote or breed.
The Australians, who are about to name an ice-breaking ship, have said they want to avoid “a Boaty McBoatface situation.” I mean, the Aussies are looking down at us. How bad is that?
Someone called John Walker – one of those people under the misapprehension that they’re funny – has said he will name any future child he has “Boaty McBoatface” in protest. If only we could be certain that he was joking. I mean, completely certain.
In the UK, people took to their keyboards to say the decision not to pick the name Boaty was anti-democratic.
The imbeciles who let it get this far have even attempted to suggest the affair was “good for science”. What they didn’t make clear was that the sort of science likely to have benefited was the kind you’d find in a play school environment. You know – let’s build a model bridge (out of sparkles and split red lentils). Or, let’s paint a picture of a house (using sparkles and split red lentils). Or, let’s grow some lentils (and add some sparkles).
But it appears that Sainsbury’s is also under the control of the kind of idiots I used to work for, and for whom the end result is irrelevant as long as a lot of people are involved in getting to it. Their Camden Road store placed an ad in the local newspaper asking for an artist to paint their canteen for free.
You can probably already see the precise point at which Sainsbury’s lost the plot and became the target for thousands of retards whose sorry little lives revolve around social media. I mean, the average “artist” in London – especially if he’s out of work, and especially if he’s the kind Sainsbury’s no doubt had in mind – is likely to have already been on the steering committee of the “vote Boaty” party anyway. Then consider that it is Camden we’re talking about, and that ramps things up a few more notches. Then consider that Sainsbury’s most recent profits were declared at £681 million on sales of over £25 billion. The brains of these “artists” will reach meltdown pretty quickly.
Ordinarily, though, it would just be a story about crassness. However, when you get to this bit, you once again see democracy at work:
The advert was placed in the local paper following a colleague discussion around ways to improve the canteen…
A “colleague discussion”, eh? That sounds suspiciously like a team meeting to me. I can see the flipcharts and free doughnuts already. It takes even less effort to imagine how some idiot “colleague” suggested that a Banksy-wannabe monstrosity on the canteen wall while they ate their tofu salad would somehow increase productivity (though not in those words). Trying to get a radical, out of work artist to do it unpaid was probably one of the better ideas.
Actually, it’s quite funny watching people so easily putting their foot in their mouth as a result of social media, these days. I wonder how much longer it will take them to realise that those who use social media as a substitute for a life aren’t worth bothering with. Don’t try to avoid upsetting them, don’t worry if you do, and for God’s sake don’t engage with them unnecessarily – even if they are “a colleague”.
Sainsbury’s, though, has gone all defensive and apologetic, which is absolutely the worst thing they could have done. To start with, they’re now implying that the “colleagues” were wrong. Yet there is no real reason why the store couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have asked someone to work unpaid any more than there’s a reason why they couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have offered a large sum of money. It’s up to them. As I said above, choosing the former option is merely a case of crassness, brought about by an incompetent attempt to be “democratic” and involve the workforce.
Sainsbury’s store management should have told their staff they were getting a couple of coats of magnolia, and that keeping their jobs should be incentive enough to maintain productivity. That would have been the end of the matter.
I saw a story in yesterday about how the police had stopped a car in Birmingham in which sheep had been spotted. The police subsequently issued this photo:
The blurring of the lambs’ faces was done by one of the officers as a joke “due to their age and vulnerability.” It made me laugh when I saw it (especially because the lamb on the left is standing there like Shaun the Sheep).
According to the BBC story, Solene Deplanche doesn’t think it’s funny.
There’s always one, isn’t there?
Apologies for this crappy link. The Nottingham Post website is an unfortunate collection of annoying and intrusive adverts with poorly written and alarmist news stories secreted amongst them. However, one of my pupils told me that Colwick Test Centre was closing when she arrived for her lesson the other day, and after further investigation it appears that the story she’d read concerned Watnall test centre, and not Colwick.
The title of the Post’s piece is misleading in the first place, since the “closure” being referred to is neither confirmed, nor is it connected with the totally separate matter of test waiting times which the Post covered in a similar unbalanced way a week or two previously. The simple truth of the matter is that Watnall testing station is – and has always been – primarily for HGV and public services drivers. Over the years, car tests have been carried out there “in secret” (it didn’t show up as an option when you booked, but you could ask if you booked by phone), temporarily (when Chalfont Drive first closed down), or officially up until the present (after Clarendon Street closed down). With much HGV testing going private these days, DVSA is considering the future viability of the Watnall site – which is huge (the yellow area in the photo), and must cost a fortune to maintain. Car testing is a very small part of it (the red areas – and I might be wrong about the size and precise location of the parking bit, as I haven’t used Watnall myself during its most recent incarnation as a car testing centre).
My first reaction when I read the article, and extracted the simple facts from the complex cipher used by the Post’s amateur hacks, was “if they close it, where will they move car tests to this time?” However, regular readers will know that I generously categorise many other ADIs under the heading of “plankton”, so it comes as no surprise to discover that their initial reaction is along the lines of “we must start a petition… fight them in the air, in the sea, and on the beaches… because test waiting times are already 17 weeks… we can’t afford to lose a test centre while it is like that… the only option if Watnall closes is Lincoln… Purple monkey dishwasher.” The Post quotes some of these comedians.
The simple truth is this: Watnall as a car test centre IS NOT closing. The future of the site is under review, but DVSA has made it clear that if the site closes, then provision will be made for car driving tests to be conducted from an alternative location. The alternative location WILL NOT be 50 miles away in Lincoln! Christ! Even Derby is closer than that. And Loughborough. Not to mention all the other Nottingham test centres.
Let’s just look into the recent history of tests and test centres in Nottingham, shall we? About six years ago, Nottingham had three test centres (Chalfont Drive, West Bridgford, and Gedling), with Watnall always hanging around as a do-they-don’t-they venue. West Bridgford and Gedling were tiny places with little or no parking, and the Labour government’s push to open multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs) saw these closed down and amalgamated into Colwick MPTC. All hell broke loose at the time, with ADIs boycotting Colwick and migrating their pupils to Chalfont Drive whether they wanted to go there or not. Many instructors were terrified of having to teach bay parking for the first time in Nottingham.
Next, the lease ran out on Chalfont Drive. Tests were subsequently and variously conducted from DVLA Offices (now closed), Watnall, and finally Clarendon Street. Clarendon was part of a Coalition drive to move tests out of test centres and “into the community”, and Clifton also opened for tests for this reason at the same time. Clifton and Clarendon were experimental and were originally only going to be operated for a limited period. Eventually, Beeston officially replaced Chalfont as the main test centre on the west side of Nottingham, and tests operating out of DVLA Offices and Watnall moved over there.
Finally, and most recently, Clarendon Street (which was a stupid location anyway) was closed, though Clifton is still operating, and its operations moved once and for all to Watnall. At no point during any of this did DVSA (or DSA, as it then was) “close” any test centre without providing alternative venues. In fact, in some cases the number of test slots available increased with the changes.
Now let’s look at the capacities of these test centres. Clifton only has two tests going out at any time, and I don’t think it operates for the same number of hours as the main centres. It has (or had) the lowest pass rate of all the Nottingham test centres, and I am convinced that this was largely down to the road works when the A453 was being widened, and the fact that the A453 is one of the busiest roads in the country. Instructors can pontificate as much as they like about how learners “should be able to drive anywhere”, but the simple fact is that any new driver going for their test is statistically much more likely to make a mistake – and for it to be deemed “serious” – around heavy traffic and variable road restrictions than they are on a semi-deserted industrial estate, or running around virtually the same route every test (as was the case with Beeston during the gridlock created by tram works, which made its pass rate the highest by a huge margin). I’m not sure how many tests are conducted at a time out of Watnall, but I am certain it is a lot less than the 6-8 maximum at Colwick and Beeston.
One area where I’m not so quick to defend DVSA is on the matter of test waiting times. Not the waiting time per se, but how they think they can reduce it with only a couple of new examiners. Even now, with a capacity for up to 20 tests per time slot (or 100-120 tests per day) throughout Nottingham, the waiting time is going up by approximately one week per month. Simple arithmetic shows that the only way this can ever be brought down – bar a sudden and catastrophic collapse in the numbers of people wanting tests – is to significantly increase the number of tests conducted. An extra 10 tests a day from a couple of new examiners is a drop in the ocean, and it needs ten times that to make a dent in the arrears.
And this is where it gets potentially very messy. Signs have gone up at some test centres warning that examiners might be accompanied by time and motion study people. From what I understand, DVSA wants its staff to be able to conduct one extra test per working day, and a little more simple arithmetic shows that this would definitely provide the necessary increase in the total number of tests conducted. The time and motion study is intended to look into that. It will come as no surprise to discover that examiners are not particularly happy about this. They say it will mean that the latest tests in winter will come back in the dark, which is both dangerous and unfair. Furthermore – and this is one reason I would never want to be an examiner – they already have only a short time between tests to fill in their paperwork, and this will be reduced still further. Tests returning late (not uncommon due to Nottingham’s incompetently managed road works) would cut that time back even further.
Industrial action is still on going as a result of anger over general civil service pension plan changes, and this extra test will almost certainly add fuel to that fire.
If you try to book a test now (start of May 2016), the first free dates (not including cancellations) turn up in mid- to late-August for all Nottingham test centres – except Watnall. Watnall is completely booked for the entire availability window that DVSA’s booking system allows. All those whingeing ADIs could easily book tests elsewhere and get much better test dates than they are suggesting is possible. I wonder why they don’t? Is it anything to do with Watnall – which has only been officially going for little over 18 months anyway – being “easier” (they don’t do bay park there, from what I understand)?
DVSA is wholly responsible for not dealing with the test waiting time problem MUCH sooner, and MUCH more effectively than it has done. It has taken them almost two years to do almost nothing, and the problem continues to worsen by the day. It’s got nothing to do with candidates “not being trained properly” and failing their tests, because pass rates are roughly the same as they have always been – 47% every year since 2011, with a 1% increase each year from 44% in 2007. In other words, it has stayed virtually the same for at least a decade (if you ignore the fact that Beeston was passing too many people during the tram works due to the piss-easy test route it was using).
And finally, just a repeat reminder for the stupid ones out there: Watnall isn’t closing. Even if the site does, tests will still be conducted from somewhere fairly close by. You won’t have to go to Lincoln unless you are VERY stupid. Even now, if you were prepared to drive more than a mile or two with your pupils, you could get MUCH better test dates if you were prepared to cover the other test centres (I will do tests at all of them, though Watnall has never appeared on my radar, probably because it is permanently fully booked). The only downside is you may have to start teaching bay parking again.