New guidance to help local authorities take on powers to tackle problem road works was published today by Transport Minister Sadiq Khan MP as Kent - the first council to apply for such powers - brings them into force.
Road works permit schemes give councils more power to coordinate road works and to take tough action when they overrun. Once a scheme is in place companies must apply for a permit before they start road works and abide by conditions on timing, 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 new guidance published today will help other local authorities to develop and apply for their own permit schemes.
Sadiq Khan said:
"Everyone knows that road works are necessary to keep essential infrastructure in good order but councils and utility companies need to do everything possible to keep disruption to a minimum for the travelling public.
"I am delighted that the Kent scheme is up and running and am pleased that more and more councils across the country are developing plans to introduce their own permit schemes. We introduced these schemes to give local authorities more power to manage and co-ordinate road works and the guidance we are publishing today will make it easier for other councils to develop high quality permit schemes and so reduce inconvenience for all those who use the roads.
"This is just one part of a package of Government measures to reduce the disruption caused by road works. We also plan to consult on higher financial penalties for companies who allow their road works to overrun as well as on lane rental charges for firms operating on the most traffic sensitive routes."
A permit scheme in London came into force earlier this month, to help tackle road works disruption in the capital.
The guidance for councils applying for permit schemes can be found here: www.dft.gov.uk/roads/streetworks.
Notes to editors
1. In July 2009, Kent County Council was the first permit scheme to be approved by the Secretary of State. The second permit scheme to be approved was the London Common Permit scheme in October 2009, which came into force on 11th January on streets managed by Transport for London and 16 London boroughs (Barnet, Brent, Camden, City of Westminster, City of London, Ealing, Enfield, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Redbridge, and Wandsworth). Bromley and Croydon will begin operating the London Common Permit scheme on 1st April 2010.
2. A permit scheme provides a strong economic incentive for co-operation and joint working between undertakers and highway authorities and should result in better managed and co-ordinated works that result in fewer delays for road users.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Councils in England have been able to apply to the Department for Transport to run their own street works permit schemes since April 2008.
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