Utility firms in Greater Manchester will have to cut the disruption caused by their road works after Transport Minister Norman Baker approved the country’s first joint permit scheme today.
The scheme will give all 10 councils in Greater Manchester 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 authorities are Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.
It follows other schemes rolled out elsewhere in the country. But this will be the first to be administered by a central body - Transport for Greater Manchester - rather than individual councils in order to reduce costs and provide a more efficient service across the region.
The scheme requires anyone carrying out road works to apply for a permit in advance and allows councils to set conditions on timing, coordination 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 pleased 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 drivers, cyclists and pedestrians 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 unnecessary disruption occurs.
The Greater Manchester scheme follows others introduced by Bedford Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Luton Borough Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Kent County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, London councils, St Helens Borough Council 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 Greater Manchester joint 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 10 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 10 Greater Manchester authorities are responsible for the details of its scheme, and the timetable for its introduction.
As a joint scheme, it will be administered by a shared service centre hosted by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) acting on behalf of all the other authorities over their combined areas. Co-ordinating the scheme in this way will not only lead to reduced costs, compared to 10 individually run schemes, but will better support the delivery of an efficient, reliable and consistent service for utility companies and road users across the whole of the Greater Manchester network.