The Government's proposals to shake up utilities works on our roads is to be welcomed, provided they put in the right controls. But any thoughts that highway authorities should get involved in determining whether utilities are taking too long should be kicked into touch immediately.
Authorities would find themselves faced with training highway inspectors to make some very difficult judgements in whole new areas of technical work. Straight lane rental should be preferred.
The utilities' performance since the introduction of the New Roads and Street Works Act have been little short of abysmal, with a general approach to reinstatement work which displays a lack of any real desire to meet agreed specifications. In Nottinghamshire we had to fight British Telecom all the way to the High Court to get a simple trench reinstatement done properly.
Government now has the chance to create a virtuous circle by using income from lane rental to increase general inspection regimes, putting financial pressure on the utilities to carry out their works in a timely and expeditious manner.
The Government should enact lane rental without delay.
David Webb, Nottinghamshire County Council, TransportHQ@nottscc.gov.uk