Northern Ireland

MOTs: Tens of thousands of new appointments in NI to reduce backlog

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Media caption'I went to Scotland for my MOT'

The Department for Infrastructure is planning to create tens of thousands extra MOT appointments in an effort to tackle a backlog.

Northern Ireland's motorists have been facing weeks of delays arranging a vehicle test.

The latest effort to combat the waiting list will see 1,000 extra tests per day added in September.

Plans are also in place to minimise the disruption caused by industrial action planned for Friday.

In June, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) announced it would open some test centres on Sundays in a bid to tackle the backlog.

Some drivers have been unable to secure an appointment until after their MOTs have expired, with some having to wait up to six weeks for a slot.

Thirty new vehicle examiners have been hired and reminder letters are being sent out earlier to deal with the waits.

The Department for Infrastructure told BBC News NI it was planning to add thousands of extra test slots.

"A further 9,000 appointments on Sundays and bank holidays in August will be made available, along with 1,000 additional tests per day from September", a spokesperson said.

"However, we continue to have a significant number of customers failing to attend for their MOT test and we therefore encourage customers to either attend their pre-booked appointments or cancel them to allow others to make use of the appointment."

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In June 2,300 motorists failed to turn up for their tests. That accounted for about 3% of all scheduled tests.

A DVA spokesperson said that in the 2018/19 financial year, 32,000 customers did not attend their MOT appointments.

The Federation of Small Businesses said it is "deeply concerned" about the impact the backlog is having on its members.

Regional chair Brendan Kearney said members cannot afford more delays which may be caused by planned strike action on Friday.

Strike action

NIPSA members in the Northern Ireland Civil Service are due to walk out over a pay dispute and this could include DVA workers.

The Department for Infrastructure said it is working to minimise any potential disruption.

A statement said: "Our advice is that customers with appointments should attend as scheduled.

"We will be monitoring the situation very closely and if things change, we will contact customers with further advice." 

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