Northern Ireland

John O’Dowd rules out privatisation of MOT services in Northern Ireland

MOT testing has resumed with a "limited capacity". Picture by Hugh Russell
An Assembly debate will be heard today on waiting times for MOTs. PICTURE: HUGH RUSSELL

Stormont’s infrastructure minister John O’Dowd has ruled out privatisation of MOT services in Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of a debate on waiting times for MOTs, scheduled to be heard in the Assembly on Monday, he said he will “never support” calls for a similar vehicle testing model to that in Britain, through a network of authorised garages.

Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd has announced an additional £1 million to tackle potholes on roads across Northern Ireland
Infrastructure minister John O’Dowd

The Sinn Féin minister said that would lead to “taking work and jobs away from our valued public servants”.

It comes as a move to biennial MOT testing for cars under 10-years-old will be proposed by the SDLP in a bid to address “significant waiting times” for test appointments in the north.

The party has tabled an amendment to the motion on MOT waiting times.

The party’s infrastructure spokesperson Mark H Durkan said “moving to a two-year cycle, even in the short term, would act as a pressure release valve to allow the completion of new testing centres and an assessment of new testing capacity”.

Mr Durkan said more needs to be done as “motorists across the north have been frustrated in recent years with significant delays in MOT test appointments”.

“Last week the chief executive of the DVA confirmed that the average waiting time for an MOT is 72 days as a result of changing consumer habits,” he said.

“MOT centres are busier than ever and the public servants working there are at full pelt trying to get as many appointments through the doors as possible.

“Unfortunately despite their efforts, the waiting list remains too long.”

SDLP Policing Board member Mark H Durkan welcomed clarification over when the report would be published
SDLP MLA and infrastructure spokesperson Mark H Durkan

He said the move to biennial testing for cars less than 10-years-old would “relieve pressure on the system”.

“Cars over 10-years-old would continue to be subject to annual inspection given their higher risk profile,” he added.

Speaking ahead of the Assembly debate, Mr O’Dowd ruled out the privatisation of the MOT service.

“In Britain as well as being more expensive at nearly £55, MOT fraud is an issue of concern to the DVSA, so much so that they dedicate part of their official web site to how they expend effort tackling the issue,” he said.

“This would mean people could get a MOT certificate without ever getting their car tested, resulting in unsafe cars on our roads.”

He said Driver Vehicle Agency staff are “working extremely hard to reduce waiting times through increasing its capacity with nearly 1.2m MOT test carried out in the last financial year, the most ever in a single year”.

“I will be making announcements in the Assembly on further measures to alleviate waiting times and have asked officials to bring forward other options for my urgent consideration, however privatisation is ruled out.”

How to change MOT appointment

Can’t make your MOT appointment? You can change it to another date online. If you don't cancel your appointment at least one clear working day before, you will then have to pay for another appointment. Don’t lose out on the fee: Department for Infrastructure

Posted by nidirect on Friday, 29 December 2023