The Department for Transport (DfT) has dropped plans to fine councils and utilities up to £5,000 if road works are left unmanned over a weekend, following criticism from the sector.
Transport Network first revealed concerns about the practical difficulties of implementing and enforcing the plans, which have now been quietly dropped by the department.
DfT’s Sally Kendall, head of street works policy and regulation, traffic and technology division, confirmed the move in a letter to the Joint Authorities Group UK, which notes ‘concern was expressed by local authorities, utility companies and contractors about the potential costs of the proposals, some of the practicalities around implementation and the impact on staff’.
‘Many believed that existing legislation could be used more effectively to deal with the issues raised,’ it added.
Ms Kendall’s letter confirmed that ministers would not ‘proceed with the specific legislative proposals included in the consultation at this time’ and outlined a range of other government plans.
These include a consultation this summer ‘on options for the future of lane rental and to test appetite for the powers amongst local authorities’.
She also added that the DfT would work with the sector to look at 'how they can use existing management systems and contractual arrangements to deliver the aims of the 2016 consultation'.
Ms Kendall revealed the DfT would also be taking forward the following initiatives:
- Work has begun on the DfT's Street Manager project, which ‘is going to look at how we might improve the way that data is collected and shared, and how we can use this data to co-ordinate activities on the highway more effectively’. The DfT will also assess how better information could be given to drivers.
- Ministers aim to improve the consistency of permit schemes and encourage greater take-up. The department is commissioning ‘an independent evaluation of the permit schemes that have now been set up by 60% of local authorities' to evaluate the costs and benefits.
- The DfT is looking at ways ‘to simplify a complex legal framework, so that we can reduce overall works duration and minimise the impact on road users and local communities’.
- New regulations will come into effect on 6 April that will modernise the qualifications regime for those working in the sector. The DfT also plans to update guidance on the inspection of works.
A DfT spokesperson told Transport Network: ‘We are committed to improving the way that road works are managed by local authorities and utilities companies. Following this consultation, we will be going ahead with other more effective measures to reduce the impact of road works and to improve journeys for motorists and other road users.’