Suffolk to introduce permit scheme for roadworks

Will roadworks permits cut the number of traffic delays? Picture: ARCHANT

Will roadworks permits cut the number of traffic delays? Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

A new system of permits before utility companies can dig up Suffolk roads is set to be brought in by the county council in time for the start of the next financial year.

There has been growing frustration among motorists when companies move in to dig up a road just a few weeks after someone else has done similar work nearby.

In Suffolk there has been no permit system in place, until now. Utility companies merely have to inform the county, as highway authority, when they want to dig up a road.

As well as introducing a permit system, there will also be a fee levied by the council. And the scheme should also ensure there is more notice for motorists before roads are dug up.

The introduction of a roadworks permit scheme will give the county extra powers to place conditions over work carried out by utility companies and other organisations, including Suffolk Highways.

At present, public utilities simply need to inform Suffolk County Council the dates when they are planning to do their works, but under a permit scheme, they would have to ask for permission and the council can either approve, refuse or amend their request as they see fit.

Fees could be reduced if the companies carrying out the roadworks ensure traffic is not affected during peak hours.

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Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Highways, said: "A permit scheme will provide more power to control proposed roadworks. It places responsibility on the applicant to better plan their work. I hope a permit scheme could reduce the impact of that work on the road network and our residents.

"A permit scheme should result in less disruption and less time that vehicles spend in traffic/delays. Consequently, there should also be a reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

"According to the Department for Transport, other counties that have run a permit scheme have seen a reduction in disruption and so we will endeavour to ensure those who live, work and visit our county also benefit."There will be a cost to the local authority to administer the permit scheme because there will be a need to recruit additional staff and amend existing software to cater for permits. However, the costs associated with the additional work involved will be recovered through the fee income associated with the scheme, making it cost neutral.

The cabinet is due to discuss the issue next Tuesday, and if it agrees to the recommendations, the permit scheme will be in place from April 1.

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