‘Unacceptable’ waiting time delays to book vehicle MoTs

‘Unacceptable’ waiting time delays to book vehicle MoTs

10 July 2019

CURRENT waiting times for an MoT test at the Driver and Vehicle Agency’s Cloonagh Road centre in Downpatrick and at other bases across the province have been branded “unfair and unacceptable” by South Down MLA Colin McGrath.

He also claimed that plans to expand the Downpatrick centre to five test lanes were “gathering dust” with no likelihood of work beginning any time soon.

In May, it was revealed that the Downpatrick centre was one of the quietest in Northern Ireland during the first quarter of the year, with 11,600 vehicle tests carried out at between January and April.

Criticising the waiting time for a test in Downpatrick and other centres, Mr McGrath said many people getting their renewal notices and trying that very day to get a time and date for a test discovered that the wait time can exceed the expiration date of their current MoT by weeks. 

“This causes real heartache and inconvenience for people with the prospect of not having access to a car being a real possibility,” he said.

“A plan to extend the Downpatrick test centre up to five lanes is sitting on a desk awaiting ministerial approval and this is just a further example of how no functioning Executive at Stormont is causing problems day and daily for people,” he added.

Former South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said drivers required access to a fully functioning MoT centre that was capable of meeting their needs.

“That is not what is happening now and this plan needs to be implemented swiftly,” she declared.

“It is unfair on staff and the public that the development of the MoT centre is not happening in Downpatrick. There needs to be swift action as an enhanced facility could alleviate the problem people are currently facing.”

A Department for Infrastructure spokesman said the current Driver and Vehicle test centre network was built around 40 years ago.

“Much has been done to maintain and modernise the test centres in that time, particularly to meet the growing demand for vehicle tests. However, present and future legislative requirements, coupled with increasing and changing demands for testing services, mean that the current network is no longer sustainable,” he said.

“As such, we have been reviewing the network with a view to determining the most appropriate network of test centres to meet our future needs. To date, with the exception of a new test centre being built at Hydebank in Belfast, no decisions have been taken on the size of any other specific test centres within a future network.”

The spokesman said the new test centre at Hydebank and will provide additional testing capacity for the Greater Belfast area.

He added: “Our plans for a new network are continuing to be progressed, specifically in terms of the design for the new test centres and the acquisition of land.  

“However, in the absence of the NI Executive there is currently no means to progress proposals beyond the construction of the new test centre at Hydebank.”