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MLA committee is recalled from break to discuss 'crisis' over driving tests delay

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DUP MLA Michelle McIlveen

DUP MLA Michelle McIlveen

DUP MLA Michelle McIlveen

A Stormont committee has been recalled to discuss delays to the restarting of driving tests.

The tests were cancelled during lockdown.

Chair of the Assembly's infrastructure committee Michelle McIlveen (DUP) has expressed concern that those waiting to sit a test face a delay stretching into next year.

She has secured the recall of the committee to discuss the matter tomorrow.

"As this situation nears crisis point, it is vital that the serious concerns expressed by those young people waiting to secure a driving test are given a focused and passionate voice," she said.

The Department for Infrastructure said a backlog of 3,000 requests relating to key workers had been prioritised. Ms McIlveen said: "By the end of October we will only be at a standstill position. Learners seeking to book a new test will still be no closer to getting on the road for education, work or pleasure.

"Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) operators are still working on the basis that general booking will not open until November 1.

"To make matters worse, departmental officials are now telling customers to expect a three to four-month delay beyond average waiting times to take their test.

"This would push first tests for many of our young people well into the new year.

"Thousands of homes and workplaces would be affected, and the livelihoods of local driving instructors put under further pressure.

"This situation is completely unacceptable. It is not something the public or we as elected representatives should be willing to accept, nor is it something the minister or officials can continue to deflect from."

Ms McIlveen has urged the department to work urgently with the DVA to increase capacity.

"Moving ahead there are serious concerns around the DVA's ability to deal with an influx of requests when general booking eventually does reopen," she said.

Meanwhile, MOT testing services for additional vehicle categories including four-year-old cars and motorbikes resumed yesterday.

MOT tests were suspended in January after faults were detected in some of the lift equipment.

The vehicle tests were further disrupted by lockdown.

DVA issued temporary exemption certificates (TECs) for some vehicles so that motorists could stay on the road.

Belfast Telegraph