Reviews ordered after North’s MOT tests suspended

Faults discovered in lift equipment ‘came out of the blue’

North’s infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon speaking with media at the Balmoral MOT centre in Belfast.Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

North’s infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon speaking with media at the Balmoral MOT centre in Belfast.Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Two reviews into how MOT tests for cars and light vehicles in Northern Ireland had to be suspended, have been commissioned by SDLP Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon

The North’s Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) ordered the suspension of most vehicle roadworthy tests on Monday after faults were discovered in lift equipment at MOT test centres.

The DVA chief executive Paul Duffy said he had not received sufficient assurances about the faults being repaired.

Cracks in lift machinery were first detected in November but the problem got decidedly worse this month forcing the suspension of the tests. Faults were found at 48 of 55 lifts at test centres around Northern Ireland.

Heavy goods vehicles will continue to be tested as they don’t require the use of lifts while taxis and four-year-old cars are being prioritised for tests.

“This had come out of the blue,” Julie Thompson from the infrastructure department told the Northern Assembly infrastructure committee on Tuesday.

“Yesterday came as a big shock, the fact that the supplier said they did not have sufficient assurance over the repairs that were in place,” she said.

Ms Thompson said that new equipment may have to be purchased and that the cracks were found on the scissor arms of the lifts which were installed in 2011 or 2012.

Later on Tuesday the infrastructure minister Ms Mallon said she was commissioning two reviews into the problem.

“The first is an investigation of the timeline and events that led up to the situation that arose last night,” she said.

“I need greater assurance than I have at present about the maintenance and testing regime in operation within DVA and about the way in which initial concerns about the lifting equipment were followed up and addressed,” she added.

Ms Mallon said the second review would be carried out by an external expert yet to be appointed who will provide her “with independent advice on the steps that need to be taken to return our MOT centres urgently to a position where a full testing service can be provided”.

She added, “It is not acceptable to me that we are in a position where the DVA cannot guarantee a safe operating environment. It is equally unacceptable to me to have a lengthy period where vehicles are not undergoing the tests needed to ensure they are roadworthy and to keep all of us safe on the roads.”