Pressure mounts over roadworks fines

Supporters of the roadwork permit scheme are lobbying to raise fines for late completion of roadworks and for changes to road traffic laws to allow authorities to charge utilities a daily hire fee for digging up lanes on the busiest roads.

The Government will be under pressure to make good on Conservative pre-election pledges to introduce lane rental charging across the UK during the current Parliament. The current permit scheme is seen an interim measure.

London mayor Boris Johnson said: “What we really crave is a lane rental system as this will allow us to charge companies for every minute their cones are on our roads. The Department for Transport needs to consult on this before the legislation can be brought in.”

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said the greatest drawback of the London scheme was its failure to provide any incentive to complete roadworks on the busiest stretches quickly, a view supported by the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG).

It is critical of plans to increase penalties and wants local authorities, which are responsible for about the same proportion of traffic disruption as utilities, to be covered by legislation. “To make this work effectively, all planned works should be required to be registered in advance – whether they are carried out by local authorities or utilities – and central government should seek to spread best practice in carrying out the Network Management Duty,” NJUG said in a submission.

“If an incentive is needed to promote the right behaviour in relation to utility works, the same incentive is surely needed to promote the right behaviour in relation to local authority works.”

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