Learner drivers in west Cumbria are being forced to travel up to 120 miles to sit their theory tests due to a lack of availability in the area.

Driving instructors say that students have been unable to secure a test at the centre in Workington due to the huge backlog caused by the pandemic.

They say learners have had to travel as far as Blackpool and Preston to sit the test, while others have had to go to Kendal and Barrow.

The theory test centre in Workington,which is based at the Old Town Hall, is currently only open two days a week.

Peter Gaston, a driving instructor in Workington, is now calling for the centre to open five days a week to help work through the backlog.

He says a learner driver looking to book their theory test in Workington today would not be able to secure a date until December.

Mr Gaston said: “It’s absolutely disgusting. At this moment they should at least be working five days a week to try and catch up the backlog.

“I feel very sorry for people wanting their theory. It’s a massive problem.

“I had a pupil this morning who went down to Kendal for her theory test, she got down and it was cancelled because one of the people was off ill.”

He said there is also a backlog of people waiting to take their practical driving test.

“We only have two examiners in Workington. One of the examiners has been pinged twice in the last month, which you can’t help but it’s knocking tests even further back.

“I feel really sorry for students waiting all this time.”

Mr Gaston said the Test and Trace system is also causing a “big problem” as students are unable to attend their lessons while isolating.

DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said: “We are doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible so we can get our services back to normal.

“I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that candidates are properly prepared and don’t rush to take it.

“With more than half of candidates failing, and demand currently extremely high for tests, learners should only take their test only when they are confident they can pass.

“This will help them to avoid a lengthy wait for a retest and help us by not adding to the backlog of tests.”

The DVSA also revealed that the centre in Workington will move to Falcon Place after September 6.

The government agency says the location of many theory test centres will change from this date and the number of centres will increase from 180 to 202.

This will “result in a more even distribution of test centre locations” and will “make theory tests more accessible to those in remote areas”.

For the new locations candidates should not have travel more than 40 miles in rural locations or 40 minutes in urban areas to get to a theory test centre, unless they choose to travel further.”