A GROUP of advanced motorists which has helped thousands of Oldham people improve their driving skills for the last 40 years is coming to the end of the road.

Organisers of the Institute of Advanced Motorists West Pennine Group are putting the brakes on their activities after longstanding attempts to recruit new and younger active members proved unsuccessful.

They are currently steering their final group small group of drivers through their driving tests and the group’s regular Sunday morning meetings at The Clayton Green Hotel in Oldham will come to a halt before the end of the year.

Chairman Beryl Schofield, told The Oldham Times that although the group has 80 members, “only a small number” are available to offer weekly advice to drivers who want to take the advanced test.

Miss Schofield, herself 72 and a founder member of the group when it was formed in 1977, said: “As members step down we are finding it difficult to recruit people who are willing to manage the group and take up positions of responsibility.

“It’s not going to be a viable group in the very near future. We’ve been going for 41 years and in that time thousands of local drivers have come through the group and taken on some of the guidance we’ve offered.

“We’ve found that younger people in particular are interested in improving their driving. They love their cars and driving, but they are also busy people.

“They like to come along to take the test, but they haven’t the time to stay with the group, although some of them have it in their mind to come back in the future.

“We’ve been trying to recruit for more than 20 years and we’ve been trying to get young people to get involved and take more responsibility. It’s quite a commitment.”

Miss Schofield said the group working with a small group of five drivers – known as “associates” – but once, they’ve taken their test, that’s it.

The courses last about seven weeks, but drivers must then wait for the availability of an examiner, so it can take 10 weeks to complete the course. The advanced test takes one to two hours includes, driving on minor roads, urban roads, dual carriageways, motorways, and on roads with a national speed limit. Drivers are expected to be systematic and to plan.

Miss Schofield, a former primary school headteacher, continued: “We’ve had quite a lot of young people who have just past their test and they take it further on and they are usually very successful.

“We currently have a 100 per cent test pass rate – above average in the national statistics. We’ve been a very successful group over time.”

Miss Schofield said the national IAM – a charity – was very sorry to hear the West Pennine group was closing.

She added: “They urged us to consider a merger with one of four other neighbouring groups – East Lancashire, Huddersfield, Stockport, Bury or Bolton, but we didn’t feel this was appropriate.”

The IAM were very sorry to hear we were taking this step. They urged us to consider a merger with one of four other neighbouring groups. These are East Lancashire, Huddersfield, Stockport, Bury or Bolton.