Government plans* to give councils more power to cut chaos and congestion caused by utility company road works have been welcomed by one of UK’s largest local authorities.
Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment Ian Lake, who oversees more than 3,000 miles of some of the country’s busiest roads, said: “When we tested road repairs made by utility companies we found around half** were of such poor quality they had to be redone.
“So not only are these firms causing congestion by carrying out road works in the first place, but they are causing further disruption by making shoddy repairs that need to be redone.
“I hope the transport minister’s lane rental scheme will lead to utility companies carrying out road works at quieter times and encourage them to repair the damage they cause right first time.
“That way we can all save time money and reduce unnecessary damage to already strained roads, which will benefit the economy and reduce the frustration of road users.”
Last year, Mr Lake supported a call by the Local Government Association to give councils more power to tackle the problem of shoddy road repairs by utility companies.
When announcing the new policy, transport minister Norman Baker said: “It is incredibly frustrating to find vital roads being dug up in the middle of the rush hour or, even worse, traffic lanes closed when no one is even carrying out any work.
“This disruption is not only inconvenient but very expensive, with road works-related congestion costing the economy an estimated £4 billion a year, which is why we are taking firm action.”
For more information and interviews call Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley on 0208 541 7259.
Notes to editors
* The Government plans to allow councils to charge utility companies up to £2,500 a day to dig up the busiest roads during peak times when road works cause the most disruption.
It is thought this will incentivise utility firms to carry out their works more quickly and at times when roads are quieter. Companies would be able to avoid the charges by carrying out works during off-peak periods or, if appropriate, at night.
** Surrey County Council tested 1,200 samples of road repairs by utility companies in 2010/11 and about half failed. Problems included the wrong repair material being used and holes not being compacted properly.
For more information on the Government plans visit www.dft.gov.uk/news