Following previous discussions around MOT biennial testing, Northern Ireland's Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has published its findings from the Call for Evidence on the issue.
Over the past weeks, NFDA Northern Ireland (NFDA NI) has drawn attention to the issues currently facing the MOT system in Northern Ireland and the Department for Infrastructure’s proposals for biennial testing.
NFDA NI representatives have engaged with all Northern Ireland's main political parties (the DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP, SDLP and Alliance) and held a number of highly productive meetings, including discussions with Members of Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Committee.
NFDA NI highlighted to the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) that the Driver and Vehicle Agency’s (DVA) mishandling of the MOT situation is exacerbating the existing pressures on the system. It outlined that it is unacceptable that motorists and dealers alike are having to wait up to five months in order to book an MOT slot.
As a result, NFDA NI has suggested that dealers could 'complement' and 'support' DVA's work around MOT testing. Additionally, NFDA is concerned that the emission testing is not being performed as part of the MOT test as is the case in Great Britain, although there is legal obligation for it to be carried out.
Roy Beggs (UUP), one of the MLAs met by NFDA, has recently raised the idea of privatised MOT testing in Northern Ireland during a debate in Stormont, reinforcing NFDA’s suggestions.
He said: "I think that we have to free the DVA from the restrictions of the public sector, which are what is preventing it from paying the going rate for a mechanic. Recently, I was talking to some major vehicle retailers, and I know from them that they would generally advertise a job with a salary of £35,000, so are we surprised that we have difficulty recruiting staff? We have to free the DVA from the restrictions of the public sector so that it can get out there and meet the market forces.
We also have to recognise that there has been no difficulty in Great Britain throughout the period in question. There is no monopoly there. Private garages provide a service, and guess what? They provided that service the whole way through the pandemic. Great Britain has not experienced all these failures. Perhaps we need competition. Competition is good for improving standards, and that flexibility of competition is needed".
Sue Robinson, NFDA Chief Executive, commented: “Through our continued engagement with Northern Ireland MLAs we have been able to put forward our suggestions as to how franchised dealers could complement and support the DVA by undertaking MOTs.
"It is encouraging that a number of politicians have recognised the strain on the current system and are considering our proposals. Although we agree that the MOT backlog needs to be addressed urgently, shifting away from the 4-1-1 testing regime towards biennial testing would significantly undermine road safety and cause further issues in the long term. NFDA urges the NI Executive to rely on support from the private sector to deal with the MOT backlog.
“We are encouraged by the positive response to our concerns and look forward to further collaboration on the issue”.
NOTES TO EDITORS
For further information, please visit: DfI Call for Evidence on Biennial MOT Testing - Summary of Responses | Department for Infrastructure (infrastructure-ni.gov.uk)