Northern Ireland

Some MOT centres to open on Sunday to clear tests backlog

Car mechanic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The PSNI is in discussions about possibly relaxing enforcement over the MOT backlog.

A number of MOT centres in Northern Ireland are set to open on a Sunday in a bid to tackle a tests backlog.

Some motorists have found themselves unable to secure an appointment until after the expiration of their MOTs.

So far, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) has opened 2,000 Sunday MOT appointment slots for 16 and 23 June.

Additional vehicle examiners have also been recruited and earlier reminder letters sent to deal with the waits.

The Sunday appointments will be available in Belfast, Coleraine, Craigavon, Newbuildings and Newtownards.

The DVA said appointments for subsequent Sundays will be released "on a rolling basis" over the next two months and can be booked online.

'Wardrobe on the Glider'

Mother-of-four Dana Jamison said her reminder letter had been dated 21 May, but she only received it on 28 May.

"And then the earliest test I was able to get was for 22 July and my MOT is up on 7 July," she told BBC News NI.

"It's a van I have. And I just need it for normal things, everyday running back and forth.

"I have a daughter who is moving house at the moment. You can't really take a wardrobe on the Glider."

Image caption Dana Jamison said she received her MOT reminder letter on 28 May but the earliest test she could get was 22 July

The east Belfast chef said she was eventually able to secure an appointment before her certificate expired, but said doing so required monitoring the DVA website.

She said it was like "playing a game of bingo".

A DVA spokeswoman said customers were advised to book their tests online as soon as they receive a reminder notice, which is now being sent out nine weeks before the current certificate expires.

"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," she said.

Relaxing the rules

With a number of drivers reportedly being unable to secure a vehicle test, the PSNI said it has discussed a possible relaxing of the rules with the DVA and had asked for its assessment on doing so.

PSNI Insp Rosie Leech said it was "aware of a backlog in the MOT system".

She said "discussions are ongoing".

While motorists can face a lengthy wait booking a test, appointments can be secured at the last minute through cancellations.

The DVA spokeswoman also noted in the 2018/19 period, 32,000 customers failed to attend their MOT appointments. She said this "puts additional strain on the system".

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