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Local powers to delegate roads-for-life

LOCAL AUTHORITIES will be given powers to delegate maintenance over the whole life of roads to private contractors, under Government plans laid before Parliament last week.

Highways authorities, which are currently obliged to authorise private sector contractors to carry out individual tasks as they arise, will be able to delegate operation of the whole road under one order.

The Local Authorities (contracting out of highways functions) Order is intended to aid a glut of new design build finance and operate schemes being procured by local authorities.

It follows a similar order made for the Highways Agency in 1995, which the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions claims has led to many successful maintenance deals for public/private trunk roads.

Essex County Council will be the first to benefit from the order after the Government last month approved the A130 PFI bypass project linking Chelmsford and the A127 between Basildon and Southend - the first to be procured by a local authority.

A private concession company will build and finance the scheme and maintain it over 25 years in return for road availability payments.

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