More on roadworks idea

Just to prove my point,here are two more stories related to my last roadworks post. The first, is the previous government’s attempt. The second is just to prove what I said about the minister’s initial response.

1. 26 November, 2001 – A new approach to reducing the delays and disruptions caused by utility company road works was put forward in a consultation paper launched today.

Sarah Boyack, minister for transport and planning, launched ‘Reducing Disruption from Utilities’ Road Works – A Consultation Paper’ and invited comments on the proposals from local authorities, the utility companies and other interested parties.26 November, 2001.

2. Ministers reject call to give councils powers over utility companies

27 July, 2011 – Ministers have rejected proposals to give councils more powers to recoup the cost of repairs to roads damaged by work done on behalf of utility companies.
The Local Government Association had called for the government to make utility companies pay a bond or deposit in advance of roadworks to make it easier for councils to recoup the cost of damage – estimated at £70m in England and Wales last year – caused by inferior road repairs.
The LGA also called for councils to be given stronger powers to ensure roadworks are timed to cause the minimum disruption to motorists, and to guarantee roads are repaired properly once work has finished
But transport minister Norman Baker rejected the proposals. In a letter to the LGA he said that he “sympathised” with local authorities concerns about street works causing long-term damage, but said the proposal to take a bond from utility companies in order to recoup the cost of remediation was “inconsistent with the coalition government’s commitment to reduce regulatory costs on business.”
He said “a more pragmatic approach would be to reduce the extent of long-term damage costs through a greater focus on high-quality reinstatements.”
He added that giving councils more statutory powers would not be a “proportionate or workable solution that creates the right incentives for utility companies”.
“I consider that where a utility company’s highway reinstatement is substandard, local authorities currently do have adequate powers to require them to put things right,” he said.

Roadworks disruption – heard it all before?

As soon as any government dept announces a new bright idea, it’s always worth looking back through the archives to check to see if it’s all been said before. In this case a story from almost 10 years ago suggests that, as always, there’s nothing new in the world of politics.

November 2002 – A government initiative to reduce the number of holes-in-the-road has instead led to an increase in their number as utilities seek to get round regulations, according to a report commissioned by the Department of Transport, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p11).

The study – details of which have been leaked to the newspaper – showed that, in attempting to get around legislation meant to reduce ‘unnecessary disruption’, utility companies were digging several small holes rather than one large one. In some cases this was causing twice as much disruption as previously.

What makes this latest story even more ironic, is that it was only about 6 weeks ago that I read in the local government press, that the minister didn’t see a need for any more legislation, stating that councils already had sufficient powers to deal with this issue. I what what’s changed? Perhaps he was feeling neglected and needed to see his name in the national press again.