Nottinghamshire County Council is considering introducing a permit scheme (under the Traffic Management Act 2004) for utility companies that carry out work on Nottinghamshire roads, to help minimise disruption and inconvenience to the public.
Utility companies are responsible for maintaining the networks of pipes and cables that deliver vital services such as water, gas, electricity and broadband. If a company needs to repair or extend pipework that is in the Council’s roads, current legislation requires them to give notice of the work they intend to carry out. This means that the Council has limited powers to help manage the works which can lead to prolonged and unnecessary disruption for road users.
Councillor John Cottee, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee, said: “We know residents get frustrated when they see work being done on a road by different organisations within short spaces of time. Sometimes this is in response to an emergency and that will always take priority but sometimes it’s because the works aren’t coordinated. We would like to work more closely with utilities to try and schedule work more effectively and introducing a permit scheme could potentially give us the opportunity to do that.”
A Streetworks Permit Scheme would mean utility companies have to request permission to carry out work and it would allow the Council to take a more active involvement in the planning and coordination of works from start to finish. By working in this way, evidence from other schemes around the country have reported reduced congestion, improved coordination of works and communication to road users, adherence to health and safety checks and minimised use of temporary traffic lights. Fixed Penalty Notices could also be issued to organisations working without a permit or in breach of the permit conditions.
Councillor Cottee added: “Our duty as a Highway Authority is to ensure all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, can get from A to B as quickly and easily as possible. We also recognise that utility works are essential and cannot be done without some disruption. There is strong evidence from the Department for Transport that other areas have benefitted significantly from similar schemes, but we will listen carefully to all feedback before making a decision on whether to proceed.”
A formal consultation on the proposed Streetworks Permit Scheme will now take place with utility companies and feedback will be carefully considered before reaching a final decision on whether to proceed with the scheme.