Belfast Telegraph

Over 2,500 drivers fail to show up for MoT tests in July

‘Mind-boggling’: Sinead Bradley
‘Mind-boggling’: Sinead Bradley
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

More than 2,500 people failed to turn up for MoT tests in Northern Ireland last month.

It comes as motorists face waits of almost two months for tests because of a huge backlog.

The longest waiting time, which had been 47 days in June, is now 52 days.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said 2,517 appointments were missed in July, meaning that drivers spent over £76,000 on tests they didn't attend.

The no-shows increased from 2,317 in June.

The longest waiting time for an MoT test is at Cookstown test centre (52 days), followed by Downpatrick (46), Armagh and Larne (44).

Motorists getting their MoTs done at the Belfast test centre had the shortest waiting time (29 days).

The new figures show that 360 MoT tests were cancelled in July - 230 were the result of industrial action, according to the department.

A DfI spokesman said new measures had been introduced to meet requirements, adding that waiting times can change "on a daily basis".

"The Driver and Vehicle Agency in response to the recent increase in demand for vehicle tests, has introduced a number of measures to increase capacity, including the recruitment of additional staff, both permanent and temporary," he said.

"By September, when the last of these new recruits will be fully operational, they will test up to a combined total of approximately 1,000 additional vehicles per day.

"A number of test centres opened on both May Bank Holidays and over those two days an additional 7,000 tests were conducted.

"During June and July, a number of test centres were open on Sundays and Saturday, July 13 and tested over 9,000 additional vehicles."

The department also outlined its plans to offer drivers additional Sunday appointments during the remainder of the summer, alongside an increase in the recruitment of staff at centres.

"Further MoT appointments will be available for the remaining Sundays throughout August and on the bank holiday in August, to address the current backlog in applications," the spokesman said.

"Additional slots will continue to be released on a daily basis, as and when they become available.

"The measures to date have helped manage the increase in applications for tests, with the further measures going some way to begin to reduce waiting times.

"Reminder notices are now being issued nine (previously seven) weeks before the current certificate expires. Our advice to customers is to book their MoT online as soon as they receive the reminder notice.

"As waiting times vary between test centres, booking an MoT as early as possible means that customers have a wider range of locations, dates and times to choose from."

In June it emerged that drivers were facing waits of up to 47 days after an increase of around 15,000 applications for tests in the first three months of 2019.

The trend has continued all summer, with many drivers at risk of breaking the law by driving without a valid vehicle certificate due to being unable to secure an appointment.

South Down MLA Sinead Bradley said the high number was unbelievable.

"It is absolutely mind-boggling that in the middle of a severe MoT backlog, which continues to force people off the roads, thousands of appointments are missed in one month alone," the SDLP representative added.

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