Steeton’s vehicle testing station is to close as part of a modernisation programme.

It will shut — along with others in Cornwall and Manchester — by the summer and staff will be transferred to other stations.

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) said its modernisation agenda would lead to the creation of a more efficient and customer-focused service for the testing of buses, coaches and lorries operating in the 21st century.

It said: “VOSA’s long-term plan is to replace its ageing test stations, many of which predate the development of motorways in the UK, with new authorised testing facilities under contract from the agency.

“The local test station at Steeton will close and staff will transfer to stations where we believe the majority of customers will take their vehicles to be tested.

“Our aim is to achieve this as soon as possible but before we do we will be working with the transport industry locally to identify potential authorised facilities to offer customers a choice of test location.

“VOSA will ensure that customers affected by the closures are kept informed and will assist them in making future test bookings at alternative locations.”

Members of the Prospect union fear the closures are the start of a wider programme.

On behalf of Prospect’s 580 VOSA members, negotiator Helen Stevens said: “While we welcome assurances that the 45 jobs affected by this decision will be transferred rather than lost, we fear this is the thin end of the wedge.

“Our members readily acknowledge that VOSA’s existing network needs to be upgraded and better located, but fear that this is the start of a cost-saving exercise designed to shed VOSA estate rather than improve access to facilities. These plans could ultimately damage the agency’s strategic capacity to test.

“Increased reliance on privately-owned testing facilities will force heavy vehicle operators to travel greater distances to find an approved site or use those owned by their competitors, both of which could act as deterrents.

“Given the current economic climate and the increasing number of businesses going to the wall, you also have to question whether now is the right time to look to private premises to provide the facilities for essential safety testing.”