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New street works regime crack downs on worst utilities

Deniz Huseyin
04 April 2023
Firms that leave roads in poor condition could see 100% of their street works inspected Photo: Deniz Huseyin
Firms that leave roads in poor condition could see 100% of their street works inspected Photo: Deniz Huseyin

A new ‘performance-based’ inspection regime to ensure utility firms properly resurface roads following street works came into force on 1 April. This will stop thousands of potholes from developing in the future, said the Government.

Currently, about 30% of utility firms’ street works are inspected regardless of how well the work is carried out, noted the Government. The measures are designed to ensure the worst performing companies are checked more regularly until they can bring about noticeable improvements.

Firms that leave roads in poor condition could see 100% of their street works inspected, the Government warns. “With highway authorities now charging £50 per defect inspection and a further £120 for follow-up inspections, poor performing companies will now be incentivised to perform better to avoid incurring high financial charges.”

The Government said the new regulations form part of a £5.5bn investment in highways maintenance over the next two years. This includes the extra £200m ‘potholes fund’ announced at last month’s Spring Budget. The new regime could help motorists “save money on expensive repairs by protecting their vehicles from damage to tyres or suspension” and also ensure “cyclists and motorbike riders can drive more safely and with greater peace of mind”.

While the average failure rate for street works by utility companies is currently 9%, with some of the worst performers failing inspections by as much as 63%, said the Government.

It added that telecoms is the worst performing sector, responsible for nearly 13% of poor street work repairs.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “The new street works regime is a victory for all road users, with motorists and cyclists able to enjoy smoother, safer, and less congested journeys as we continue to level up transport across the country and grow the economy.”

The measures will also help drivers plan ahead and ease congestion as utility companies and local authorities will now be required to provide the DfT street manager service with more up to date and accurate data on live works, including at weekends.

Companies will be asked to provide information about when works start and stop at weekends and all local authorities must

share start/stop information about their works. This will update sat navs and other apps so motorists are aware of where street works are and can avoid those areas – preventing traffic from building up.

As one third of all street works are carried out by telecoms operators, the plans will also help speed up broadband rollout across the country by removing restrictions on works for new customer connections. The changes will mean works can be done more quickly, but to the right standards in terms of reinstatements.

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