A fifth of roadworks fail to meet the grade across Suffolk

Roadworks are continuing through the coronavirus pandemic, but workers are adhering to social distan

Roadworks are continuing through the coronavirus pandemic, but workers are adhering to social distancing guidelines of two metres. File picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Katy Sandalls

Inspectors have found that 20% of roadworks carried out across Suffolk last year were not up to scratch with the companies responsible fined a total of £200,000.

A report prepared ahead of Suffolk County Council's meeting next week said that 18,000 inspections of ‘live’ roadworks were carried out last year, of which around 20% failed - and the figure is likely to be similar this year.

Inspectors are looking to see whether working practices are safe, whether they comply with the permit given, if work is up to the correct standard or whether the site is reinstated properly once work has finished.

The report said: “As a result the works promoter either carried out remedials or were issued with sanctions for their failings.”

Fines dished out last year totalled £202,660. The level of fine depends upon the nature of the breach and how quickly the fine was paid.

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A highways spokesman said: “Suffolk County Council meets regularly with work promoters to discuss performance and address particular areas of concern with the relevant work promoters.

“However, 2020/21 was a challenging year for the construction/utility sector on resource and materials to deliver works.

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“Suffolk County Council continues to actively engage with work promoters on seeking to improve their performance on behalf of the residents of Suffolk.”

The authority switched to a permit scheme in 2020 where firms and utilities seeking to do work would require a permit to do so, often containing conditions around working times or measures that must be complied with.

The first year of the scheme saw 60,000 permit requests processed.

National data in the report estimated that congestion and disruption from the 2.5million roadworks carried out nationally each year cost the UK economy around £4billion, and therefore the 50,000 roadworks in Suffolk could leave the county with an £80m locally.

Sarah Adams, leader of the Labour group at the county council, said the inspection failure rate was “yet more bad news for the residents of Suffolk who have had to put up with never ending road works, disruption and misery”.

She added: “If 20% of the works are not satisfactory then there is something seriously wrong with the system.

“It would be interesting to know exactly which companies have been fined and how much."

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