Utility firms in parts of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex will have to cut the disruption caused by their road works after Transport Minister Norman Baker approved the country’s latest permit scheme today (26 June 2012).
The scheme, the sixth in the country, will give four councils more powers to co-ordinate road works and take tough action against companies who break the rules - including issuing fines of up to £5,000.
The four authorities are Bedford Borough, Hertfordshire, Luton and Southend-on-Sea.
The scheme requires anyone carrying out road works to apply for a permit in advance and allows councils to set conditions on timing, co-ordination and the amount of road space left available to road users.
Companies who work without a permit or break the conditions will be fined.
Norman Baker said:
I am delighted to be able to give the go ahead for this permit scheme.
Although we all know that road works are sometimes unavoidable, the disruption they cause can be a hugely frustrating for road users and pedestrians alike, as well as costing businesses time and money. That is why it is important that councils use the powers they have to make sure utility firms carry out works with consideration for those who use the road.
We are determined to tackle problem road works and make sure that those who dig up the road are made accountable when disruption occurs.
The East of England permit scheme is the latest to be granted approval, following Kent County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, London councils, St Helens and authorities in parts of Yorkshire.
These councils are monitoring their schemes to make sure they are producing benefits for local residents and feeding this information back to the Department for Transport.
Notes to editors
The East of England permit scheme has been approved by the Government after meeting the requirements of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and The Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007.
The four authorities have been asked to nominate the preferred date for the scheme to come into effect. DfT officials will work with the councils to give effect to the scheme on that date, by means of a Statutory Instrument.
A council running a permit scheme is able to charge companies for providing a permit although any charge should cover costs and should not result in a surplus. It will be a criminal offence to work without a permit. The maximum fine will be £5,000. It will be 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 also be given for working without a permit or not meeting a permit condition. Councils in England have been able to apply to the Department for Transport to run their own street works permit schemes since the relevant Regulations came into force in April 2008.
The four east of England authorities are responsible for the details of its scheme, and the timetable for its introduction.