Dear Sir,

Earlier this year I read in  Newton News that Durham County Council were offering free driver training to small to medium size businesses, funded through government as part of a fuel saving initiative over the next 5 years.

Since then I have found there are other important driver safety schemes being carried out by a small group of driving instructors, handpicked and funded by DCC Road Safety Team.

These schemes are important, in today’s busy traffic, with the numbers of serious injuries and deaths on the road rising for the first time in years, and this type of service can really improve road safety.

However the way these instructors are chosen, with government funding available only if the trainee uses this small select group, appears to be very anti competitive and unfair..

How can any business survive when local government appears to be sponsoring their friends on a “job for the boy’s” basis?

I have spoken to local driving instructors who have approached DCC, wanting to take part. Even though they have had the relevant qualifications’, they have been met with dismissal.

Surely this is wrong, how would local shop owners feel, if DCC offered free or discounted food, but only through a competitor, chosen and on some occasions trained and then paid by DCC using government funds.

This is not a fair on any level for any company to work in, and I wonder if DCC would consider looking closely at fair practice. Their actions have stopped local driving instructors, from carrying out the job that they have chosen and trained for at some expense. They also affect the ambitions of other instructors gaining further training and qualifications’, as they will never be able to use them. This surely must stop, and a fairer system introduced.

Town Businessman

Name & address supplied.

County Council Reply . . .

The instructors who deliver driver training and driver safety courses on behalf of the council are self-employed, mainly locally based, have been selected in line with the council’s procurement policies and procedures, and have undergone a strict selection process. However, the amount of available work is such that only a small pool of instructors is required.

We appreciate it may be disappointing for anyone who has not been able to secure a contract through this process but when the existing contracts expire we will be looking to explore the market to give eligible instructors who may not have worked with us before the chance to apply.

Alan Kennedy, Road Safety Manager

Durham County Council