12/08/2004

Vehicle test centres back on line as staff return to work

The DoE Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency (DVTA) have welcomed a return to work by staff.

The strike by members of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) has been affecting MOTs and driving tests since mid May this year, but the union announced yesterday that staff are to return to work.

DVTA Chief Executive Stanley Duncan said: "I very much welcome the return to work. We will be working hard to ensure that normal vehicle and driver testing operations are restored as soon as possible. Clearly it will take some time to work through the backlog that has built up over the last three months. However, we have put a number of measures in place over the past few weeks to assist customers and help us to focus on those who have been affected the most."

Under special arrangements introduced following the industrial action, certificates of temporary exemption were made available for goods vehicles on June 3, 2004, but it required the introduction of emergency legislation to enact similar arrangements for cars and motorcycles.

Customers who have applied for tests but who have been unable to get them on time due to the industrial action will be issued with certificates via post this week. These will allow cars and motorcycles to be driven on the road without a vehicle test certificates. These certificates can last for up to six months from the date of issue.

"This measure will help to alleviate the concerns of customers. Of course, exemption certificates don’t alter the responsibility of motorists for ensuring that their vehicles are maintained in a roadworthy condition and that they meet all other statutory requirements," warned Mr Duncan.

The Agency will be give priority to tests which are not covered by the arrangements for exemption certificates. These include driving tests and vehicle tests for public service vehicles and lorries used on international journeys.

Certificates of temporary exemption may be used in place of vehicle test certificates when applying for vehicle excise licences (motor tax) in Northern Ireland. Elsewhere in the United Kingdom they are acceptable only for driving vehicles on the road.

Customers are reminded that once a certificate of temporary exemption has been issued, a vehicle used or kept on a public road must be licensed back to the expiry date of the last licence in order to avoid any enforcement action by DVLNI for non-payment of vehicle excise duty (VED). Details of where to licence can be found at DVLNI website www.dvlni.gov.uk

Customers seeking advice should contact the DVTA customer information line on 0845 601 4094.

(SP)

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