Local authorities are being urged by Regional and Local Transport Minister, Norman Baker, to consider the use of permit schemes that help to reduce the disruption caused by road works.
Road works permit schemes give councils more power to coordinate road works and once a scheme is in place utility companies and local authorities must abide by strict conditions including time limits, coordination or the amount of road space to be left available to road users during the works.
Anyone who breaks the terms of their permit or works without a permit could be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £5,000.
The letter sent to councils today (13 April 2013) also outlines plans to make the permit scheme application process less bureaucratic and costly by allowing councils to introduce schemes without needing to seek approval from central government.
Norman Baker said:
Some road works are necessary to keep vital infrastructure running but they should be managed so that the public aren’t constantly inconvenienced.
That is why I have written to councils today urging them to develop permit schemes to help them co-ordinate works and reduce the hassle and frustration caused by road works.
We are also working to make it easier for councils to use the powers at their disposal to cut road works disruption by cutting the red tape they need to get through to put permit schemes in place.
Notes to editors
Street works permit schemes are currently in place in Kent, London, and Northamptonshire.
A council running a permit scheme is able to charge companies for providing a permit although any charge should cover the costs of administering the permit scheme and should not result in a surplus.
It is a criminal offence to work without a permit. The maximum fine will be £5,000. It is also an offence to not meet a permit condition, for which the maximum fine is £2,500. Fixed Penalty Notices, as an alternative enforcement mechanism, can instead be given for working without a permit or not meeting a permit condition.
Local councils are responsible for designing and consulting on their own scheme proposals. Under current legislation, permit schemes in England can be implemented only with the approval of the Secretary of State. Councils in England have been able to apply to the Department for Transport to run their own road works permit schemes since the relevant Regulations came into force in April 2008. The Department for Transport’s business plan sets out the intention to end the need for central government approval of individual local authorities’ permit schemes from April 2012. Legislative proposals to do this will require Parliamentary approval.