Headlines: October 18th, 2006



Urgent and decisive action is needed to stop chaos caused by uncoordinated and over-running road works according to a leading motoring organisation.

The RAC Foundation says more than 200 utility companies now claim they are digging up 2.4 million holes a year and figures in a new Government consultation show the cost of congestion from a previously estimated 1.1 million holes was more than four billion pounds.

The Foundation’s executive director, Edmund King, will highlight these problems in a Channel 4 programme being broadcast tomorrow evening. He will call for local authorities to be given full powers to manage roadworks as a matter of urgency. The Foundation is concerned that in spite of legislation in the 1991 New Roads and Streetworks Act and the 2004 Traffic Management Act many measures meant to improve the situation won’t be in place until late next year.

It is also concerned that under the current consultation it has already been agreed that restrictions on digging up roads will not apply to roads that are not judged to be traffic sensitive. That, says the RAC, will mean street authorities having to hold consultations if they want to control streetworks on those roads and the Foundation believes this loophole will see much disruptive work shifted to A and B roads.

The Foundation says stricter financial penalties are needed to improve the speed and performance of utility and telecom companies but it warns that the cost of fines imposed on companies must not be passed on to the consumer. Most road users, the Foundation believes, are confused about who is responsible for the chaos caused when the same stretch of road is constantly dug up by the companies that are allowed to do so.

Edmund King said, “When fully implemented the Traffic Management Act should increase the powers of local authorities in England and Wales to pro-actively manage road works, apply conditions and specify start and finish dates. It can increase the levels of fines available to them for the contravention of safety regulations, improve their ability to order re-surfacing work and fine those companies who abuse the system. We need this introduced with urgency.”