Friday, 25 January 2013

Lib Dems Welcome New Moves To Tackle Disruptive Road Works

New rules giving councils greater powers to tackle disruptive road works have been welcomed by Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats who have been campaigning for change.

County Councillor, Sarah Whitebread, who represents Cambridge’s Market Ward has been calling for new laws to allow local authorities to charge companies by the day for road closures as an incentive to speed up work.

Now Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, Norman Baker has announced a new road
permits scheme for companies wishing to carry out work. It will give councils the power to set conditions on the length of time it will take utility companies to complete the work and the amount of road space to be left available for road users.

Where similar schemes have been put in place in other parts of the country they have been found to be effective in reducing time taken to complete work.

Cllr Whitebread said: “This is extremely good news. We have seen major disruption in Cambridge as utility works take much longer than planned causing misery for traders who have struggled as a result and problems for those trying to travel through the city.

“Until now, we have been at the mercy of these companies and forced to put up with disruption until the jobs get done; these new permits will give local authorities power to take action.”

Currently councils wanting to introduce a permit scheme need approval from the Department for Transport. Following consultation, this requirement will be removed to give councils more freedom in reducing congestion and making it easier to put new permit schemes in place.

Last summer Cambridge faced weeks of disruption while work was carried out on gas mains in East Road. And this week sewer replacement work, expected to take three months in Jesus Lane, was suspended due to the ice and snow.

Cambridge City Councillor, Colin Rosenstiel, who represents Market ward, said: “I hope a permit scheme locally can impress on utilities and their contractors the need to make the best use of the time. When they dig up roads they need to get the jobs completed as fast as possible".

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said: “This change in the rules gives local people the power to take control in their towns and cities rather than waiting for approval from central government.

“This move towards localism is at the heart of everything the Lib Dems stand for and I am pleased to see that this message is getting through to government.”