Utility firms in St Helens will have to cut the disruption caused by their road works after the government approved the North West’s first road works permit scheme, Transport Minister Norman Baker announced today (22 December 2011).
The scheme - the fourth in the country - will give St Helens Borough Council more powers to coordinate road works and take tough action when they overrun. It will allow the council 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:
Road works are a fact of life but sometimes works take longer and cause more disruption than is necessary. This means frustrating diversions and delays for drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, and costs business time and money.
The approval of the new permit scheme for St Helens will give the council greater control over how works are carried out on its roads, as well as incentivising utility firms to give greater consideration to the travelling public.
St Helens is the fourth council to gain approval for a permit scheme. Kent County Council, Northamptonshire County Council and London councils had their schemes approved in the last two 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 (DfT).
Notes to editors
St Helens Borough Council is the first English local authority in the North West to have its application 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.
St Helens Borough Council has been asked to nominate its preferred date for its permit scheme 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.
St Helens Borough Council is responsible for the details of its scheme, and the timetable for its introduction.
Permit schemes are already in place in Kent, London and Northamptonshire.