MORE than 1,500 practical driving tests in Bradford district in one year were taken alongside an interpreter, figures reveal.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) statistics cover April 1, 2013, to April 6, 2014 - the day before the Government scrapped translation services on driving tests.

A total of 1,516 tests were taken with assistance from an interpreter at driving test centres in Heaton, Thornbury, Heckmondwike, Horsforth, Skipton and Steeton.

The tests were taken by 764 people, although the DVSA could not say how many times each of those learners took the test.

More than a third - 507 - of the tests were taken at the Farfield Street centre in Heaton, where they were taken by 275 learners.

At Thornbury, 144 learners took 253 interpreter-assisted tests. There were 418 tests with interpreters taken by 159 hopeful drivers at Heckmondwike, while 127 learners took 220 tests at Horsforth.

In Skipton, 37 tests - and 21 drivers - needed interpreters, while the numbers in Steeton were 81 tests and 38 drivers.

David Ward, MP for Bradford East, said: "It must be a good thing to have been scrapped. We are talking about someone who is having to show their capabilities in a UK driving test. It is about fitness for driving on our roads.

"It is a good job it has gone - 1,500 is a lot. It is also an incentive to learn the language, to be part of the local community."

Up until March this year, there had been 31,756 driving tests taken from the six centres in Bradford district. Of those, 13,564 resulted in passes.

A DVSA spokesman said he couldn't comment on the individual figures, but added: "We consulted on proposals to review foreign language support following concerns about potential road safety implications, the risk of fraud and the cost of providing translations.

"More than 70 per cent of people who responded supported the withdrawal of foreign language voice-overs and interpreters on tests. Many people agreed that a lack of understanding of the national language meant that some drivers may not be able to understand traffic signs, speak with traffic enforcement officers or read details of the rules of the road."

Before the interpreter service was scrapped, learners could take their car and motorcycle theory tests with a voiceover in 1 of 19 foreign languages and use interpreters on theory tests and practical tests.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said at the time the service was binned: "It is essential that all road users have the right skills to use our roads safely and responsibly. By stopping driving tests in foreign languages we will cut out the risk of fraud, and help to ensure that all drivers can read road signs and fully understand the rules of the road.”