Oxfordshire County Council is taking on the bane of many people’s lives – over-running and clashing road works.
A new system, officially launched this month, means anyone wanting to carry out roadworks now has to apply to the county council for a permit.
The council believes that the new scheme could result in almost 9,000 fewer days-worth of roadworks every year in Oxfordshire, better quality of completed work, better coordination and management – all adding up to less hassle for the travelling public.
Permits have to be paid for and carry strict conditions and penalties for any work that takes too long or is not of satisfactory quality when completed. Much of the work people see on the roads is done by utility companies carrying out vital work to maintain or provide services like gas, water, electricity and broadband. The council also does planned work to resurface roads and these too will be covered by the permitting system.
Council officers will be able to decide in some cases when work can take place and insist that if two companies want to work in the same or nearby location that there is coordination and cooperation so that the impact on the roads is lessened.
Inspections will also mean that inferior work that could lead to problems with the road surface can be identified and rectified. And while permitting can’t guarantee every set of roadworks run perfectly, the feedback from a ‘soft-launch’ of the scheme from mid-January has already seen:
- 2,000 permit applications
- Challenges from the council to the duration of over 30 applications, reducing the time the works are on the road
- Requests from the council for collaborative working on over 20 applications to make sure when utilities are working in the same location the works are completed in one go
County Councillor Liam Walker, Cabinet member for highway delivery and operations, said: “Road works is one of the most complained about subjects and now we have the powers to do something to help.
“What we want to see are works that are done as quickly as possible, to the highest standard and with the least amount of inconvenience to the public. The new permits mean that companies will have to agree to conditions and we are now able to enforce them.
“People also want to see more companies working together so that the same area isn’t dug up repeatedly – we want to see this too and, through permitting, we want to see more cooperation.”
The permitting scheme is designed to be self-financing with charges set so that running costs are covered.