Utility firms in parts of Yorkshire will have to cut the disruption caused by their road works after Transport Minister Norman Baker approved the county’s first road works permit scheme today (22 March 2012).
The scheme - the fifth in the country - will give 6 Yorkshire councils more powers to coordinate road works and take tough action when they overrun. The councils included in the scheme are Barnsley, Doncaster, Kirklees, Leeds, Rotherham and Sheffield. The scheme will allow the councils to require anyone carrying out road works to apply for a permit in advance and to set conditions on timing, coordination or the amount of road space to be left available to road users during the works. Those companies who break the terms of their permit or work without a permit will have to pay a fine.
Norman Baker said:
I am delighted to be able to give the go ahead for the Yorkshire permit scheme.
Although we all know that road works are sometimes unavoidable, the disruption they cause can be a hugely frustrating for drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists 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 disruption occurs.
The Yorkshire permit scheme is the fifth permit scheme to gain approval. Kent County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, London councils and St Helens have had their schemes approved in the last 2 years. These councils will be monitoring their schemes to make sure that they are producing benefits for local residents and feeding this information back to the Department for Transport.
Notes to editors
The 6 Yorkshire councils are the first English local authorities in the north to have their applications for a street works permit scheme approved by the government as meeting the requirements of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and The Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007.
The 6 Yorkshire councils have been asked to nominate the preferred date for their permit schemes to come into effect. DfT officials will work with the council 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 6 Yorkshire councils are responsible for the details of its scheme, and the timetable for its introduction.
Permit schemes are already in place in Kent, London and Northamptonshire.