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Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley, the incoming Chair of the Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee has said the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon needs to reassure the public that a credible plan is in place to deal with the backlog of driving tests in Northern Ireland.

He said, “The most recent DVA statistics show that fewer than 2,000 driving tests were carried out between the start of this calendar year and the end of April. The next monthly figures for May are due to be published in the next few weeks and that will provide a more stringent test of the Minister’s plan to deal with the driving test backlog.

The average number of tests conducted over the past 5 years is just under 5,000 tests per month. Very soon we will need to see more than that figure delivered each month over a sustained period to ensure a reduction in the backlog. To reduce the backlog all those who have been waiting to take a test over the last year must be accommodated, but so too must all those people who are passing their theory test each day.

It is only a few weeks since there were queues of up to 11,000 attempting to book a test through the online system. Many of those are young people unable to take up employment opportunities because they cannot obtain a driving licence. We will need to see a clear demonstration that the backlog is being reduced if the Minister can truly claim to have an effective plan in place.

As Chair of the Infrastructure Committee I want to have a constructive working relationship with Minister and hope she recognises the need to address the backlog. This will be an issue I will follow closely and if we do not see signs of real progress in the next statistics then the Minister will be held to account on behalf of all those waiting for so long.”