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Reducing roadworks misery on the region’s roads

Utility firms who over-run their deadline when digging up roads in Wolverhampton face fines under new powers.

Wolverhampton has become the latest Highway Authority across the West Midlands to introduce permits which have been heavily supported by Mayor Andy Street.

The move means utilities such as gas, water, electricity and communications companies who want to work on highways will need to apply for a permit and complete work by an agreed deadline.

Companies whose works over-run without good reason could ultimately be fined daily until the road is re-opened.

Under national Department for Transport guidelines the permit scheme gives councils greater powers to set out what times work can take place and how many days it will last for.

Councils’ own roadworks will also have to apply for a permit under the scheme, where tighter controls can be applied.

Six local authorities in the region have now signed up to the scheme, which is being coordinated by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Mr Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “Late-running roadworks are a huge frustration for many, which is one of the key benefits of introducing these schemes as they are now much more likely to be completed on time."

“This scheme is not about generating income for the local authorities, it is about working with all promoters of roadworks to minimise disruption, improve air quality, reduce the associated economic impact and improve reliability of our bus services."

“This is just one of the many steps we are taking to tackle congestion across the region as we overhaul our transport network to make journeys quicker and more reliable.”  

In Coventry there has already been a 10% reduction in the number of late-running street and roadworks, where a permit scheme has been operating for over two years. National studies have shown disruption from roadworks has been reduced by more than three days thanks to permitting schemes.

Cllr Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment at City of Wolverhampton Council said: “We have exciting future plans for Wolverhampton and it is hugely important to our community, visitors, businesses and transport services that we keep our city moving.

"Through the introduction of the permit scheme, we will have greater control over the works to ensure the network is effectively managed." 

“The majority of roadworks are carried out by private contractors on behalf of utility companies for gas and water, it’s important the city council can hold these contractors to account to ensure the works are carried out in a timely manner and left in the right condition."

“The new scheme will help reduce disruption and improve journey times for all road users and encourage works on the highway to be completed on schedule.”

The TfWM congestion management plan sets out a commitment last year for all local authorities in the West Midlands to be signed up to the permitting scheme during 2018/2019. With six out of TfWM’s seven constituent authorities signed up just half way through the year the transport authority is making good progress.

Councils with permitting schemes successfully in place may also benefit from being eligible to introduce lane rental schemes. Similar schemes in London and Kent have stopped roads being dug up multiple times and seen a drop in congestion on some of the busiest roads in those areas.

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