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Most MoT tests for cars and light vehicles in Northern Ireland have been suspended with immediate effect

Police in Northern Ireland have said they will show discretion in regards to cars that are untaxed because drivers cannot get MoT tests.

They added that as long as the vehicle is roadworthy it is unlikely to be referred for prosecution.

Most MoT tests for cars and light vehicles in Northern Ireland have been suspended with immediate effect.

An inspection of vehicle lifts in NI’s MoT centres previously detected “signs of cracking” in 48 of 55 lifts.

In their statement, police said: “Driving without vehicle tax is not prosecuted by PSNI and is the remit of DVLA.

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The BBC obtained a picture of a crack in a lift at one of the vehicle test centres in Northern Ireland

“Where a police officer detects a vehicle without tax and it is outside of the 14-day grace period provide in the legislation, a referral is made to the DVLA.

“Given these exceptional circumstances, where PSNI detects a vehicle without a valid MoT certificate, providing the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition, officers would be encouraged to exercise discretion.”

MoT exemption certificates lasting four months will be issued so motorists are able to drive.

However, these cannot be issued for four-year-old cars or taxis.

This is because four-year-old cars have never been through an MoT test before, meaning they do not have a certificate to extend, while taxis are covered by different legislation.

An assembly member has called for emergency legislation to be brought in to address the MoT “crisis”.

Roy Beggs said legislation should be considered to extend the period in which cars do not need to be have MoTs.

Mr Beggs, a member of the assembly’s infrastructure committee, said he had put this to Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

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Nichola Mallon said she had “inherited this mess”

“We have to remember there’s a crisis coming in four months time,” he said.

“In four months time we’ll suddenly have twice as many as cars which will become due for MoT – those which are due at that time and those that are presently due.”

Mr Beggs said at the minute cars that could be 10 years old were being exempted

“I would have thought four-year-old cars would be much, much safer, much newer and built to a much higher standard and there would be a lesser risk,” he said.

“We need to investigate all options.”

The infrastructure minister, Ms Mallon, said two reviews will be conducted to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.

Tests on heavy goods vehicles and buses will continue.

Daniel Donnelly, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said many small firms depended on their vehicles.

“It’s absolutely key that clarity is brought soon,” he said.

Paul Duffy, chief executive of the Driver Vehicle Agency, said each of the 55 lifts could cost £30,000 to £40,000 to replace.

He said an insurance inspector who examined some of the repaired lifts on Monday was not satisfied with the work.

As a result, the agency was not comfortable that the rest of the lifts were safe to use, he said.

Mr Duffy said it was too early to say whether the lifts could be repaired or would have to be replaced, but there was a possibility they may need to be replaced.

BBC News NI business reporter Richard Morgan

UK companies who manufacture MoT lifts told me the cost to replace each one could be in and around £30,000 to £40,000 because of the specifications required for testing in Northern Ireland.

The average manufacturing time for each lift can be anything from five to 10 weeks.

Depending on the capacity of the company they could make some simultaneously, but you are still talking a number of months to fulfil such an order.

One firm told me they could fulfil the order in four months if they pushed themselves – but that’s because they already have 15 in stock.

So that length of time plus a contract of this size and scale would inevitably be put out to tender by the department and that process could take some time.

We don’t know if the lifts will be replaced but it gives you a sense of the timescale and cost the department would be facing.

Ms Mallon said she has asked her permanent secretary to commission two separate reviews, which she will oversee.

The first investigation will focus on “the precise timeline and to understand who knew what and when and all actions taken”.

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The DVA has said it is too early to say whether vehicle lifts could be repaired or would have to be replaced

She said the review will be carried out independently by auditors from outside the Department for Infrastructure.

“The second review will be carried out by an external expert which we are currently in the process of appointing and will provide me 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.”

Thousands of MoTs had already been cancelled after the cracks in lifts were detected.

The suspension was announced on Monday night.

Motorists have also raised concerns about insurance cover if they are unable to get MoT certificates.

On Tuesday, AXA insurance said: “We are aware of the of the ongoing issues at MOT test centres in NI and that our customers may be concerned about their insurance cover.

“AXA can confirm that until this situation is resolved, it will not be a requirement for AXA customers to have a valid MOT certificate, as long as all other policy conditions are met”.



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