North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson is backing a national campaign to license garages to protect consumers from rogue mechanics. He has also promised to oppose any plans to move MOT inspections from an annual requirement to one needed only every two years.
His pledges came after a visit to Swindon motor dealer Pebley Beach. Mr Tomlinson was invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of its Paddington Drive showroom and repair centre by managing director Dominic Threlfall, who was concerned by a report suggesting many MPs were out of touch with the modern motor trade.
Mr Threlfall said: “Electricians and gas fitters have to be licensed, but anyone can open a garage and fix your car.
“A badly-maintained motor vehicle can be lethal, and the public need assurance that anyone working on their car is trained to the highest professional standards.”
Mr Tomlinson said: “I think there’s mileage in this campaign because enough consumers have been left with a bad taste in their mouth. I am happy to ask questions in Parliament about this.”
He also said he would oppose any changes to the annual MOT examinations following speculation that Parliament might seek to make them biennial.
Mr Threlfall added: “Half of the cars we see here fail the MOT on their first attempt – and that’s after 12 months of driving. Two years between tests would mean dangerous cars on our roads.”
Tyres were a particular problem in Swindon because the town’s high number of roundabouts can lead to the edges of tread wearing very quickly, he said.
Every week at least one driver will bring in their car oblivious to the cords showing on the edge of their tyres. “It is incredibly dangerous and the owner faces a hefty fine if stopped by the police,” said Mr Threllfall.
Mr Tomlinson added: “You need your car to perform at its best. No-one has emailed me to complain that they have to have an MOT every year. Again, this is something I’m prepared to back.”
Mr Tomlinson’s visit to Pebley Beach – which also has a showroom in Cirencester and was recently voted national Garage of the Year by its customers on comparison site motorcodes.co.uk – was arranged following the publication of a national report which suggested MPs known little about the motor trade.
The Institute of the Motor Industry survey of 99 MPs suggested that more than half saw jobs in the motor trade as low-skilled, low-paid and dirty.
Showing the MP around the firm’s state-of-the-art repair centre, where inspections are routinely recorded on video and emailed to the customer, Mr Threllfall said: “Our master technicians have done more training than a veterinary surgeon has, and our commitment to apprenticeships and ongoing training means we have a highly skilled and proficient workforce.”
Pictured: Justin Tomlinson MP talks to Pebley Beach apprentice technician Ben Plush on his tour of the garage