DUP MLA and Chair of the Infrastructure Minister has called on the Infrastructure Minister to publish details of what she considers the backlog of driving tests in Northern Ireland to actually be.
In response to concerns about delays to driving tests a spokesperson for the Department claimed "it will take six to eight weeks to clear the backlog" of driving tests in Northern Ireland.
Ms McIlveen said,
"This statement is either a somewhat disingenuous attempt to twist statistics or alternatively it indicates the Minister has a detailed plan already in place to facilitate all of those unable to take a driving test over the last five months within six to eight weeks. Undoubtedly she would be happy to publish that plan.
Six to eight weeks is the usual backlog within the DVA system even during normal times. However, at the moment people cannot even apply for a test. How exactly does the Minister intend to cater for the thousands of people who have been unable to take a test over the last five months but who also currently cannot even get onto the queue?
In understand some of those young people have been told by DVA staff it could be next year before they will be able to take a driving test.
Given the Department appears so confident in its 'factcheck' perhaps they will also publish some figures. Firstly, what number of tests do they estimate comprises the current backlog? Secondly, can they publish how many practical driving tests were carried out between 24th March (when testing stopped this year) and 31st August in each of the last five years?
Those figures will help tell the public whether the Minister is confident of clearing the real backlog or whether her Department views the backlog as tests already scheduled before testing stopped and the booking system was closed to new applications.
If the Minister does intend to clear the true backlog within six to eight weeks as she has stated then we will also await publication of her detailed plan about how this will be achieved. Will more examiners be employed? Will testing hours be increased? What specific actions will be taken to ensure that a young person who is ready to take their driving test but has been unable to book a date will secure a test within those six to eight weeks?"