The item under The Sunday Times in News stand (NCE, 24 October), refers to co-ordinated work by utilities as though it was a new idea. To my knowledge this was standard practice in Plymouth as far back as 1948.
The then Plymouth Water Department acted as co-ordinator for each utility, including sewerage and council roadworks, and informed the others at fortnightly meetings of any projected works which were then carried out in co-operation.
The rebuilding of Plymouth City Centre included many new trunk mains and the water department assembled all the details and allotted each utility its most appropriate and economical position.
The system was particularly valuable on new estates where each utility had its agreed position in roads/footpaths.
First in, usually sewerage or water, excavated and laid, followed by gas and electricity, while last in, usually telephones, laid, backfilled and reinstated, the overall costs being shared out appropriately.
This allotted position has since been adopted nationally but now I am not aware of any other co-ordination in general main and service laying. Full marks, then, to Plymouth for originating a very sensible scheme.
BG Harker (M) 27 Cambridge Road, Langland, Swansea SA3 4PE