A pledge to tackle the costly damage caused by shoddy streetworks has been agreed by councils, utility companies and businesses.
The agreement – entitled What Good Looks Like – is the result of a taskforce set up by the Local Government Association last year to tackle the growing problem.
Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton has welcomed the move, describing it as a ‘positive step forward’ for Hampshire.
Mr Thornton said, “This is encouraging news for local businesses and residents. Hopefully it will help speed up Hampshire County Council’s processes, which can be painfully slow at times. Only recently we’ve seen how inefficient and badly-planned roadworks can cause chaos in our area, with the convoluted Colden Common works (pictured).”
Taskforce membership included the National Joint Utilities Group, Transport for London, British Chambers of Commerce, and the Association of Convenience Stores.
It followed research that found 72 per cent of businesses had been negatively impacted by streetworks – including reduced footfall, forced closures and delivery delays and with taxpayers forced to pay around £218 million a year repairing poorly re-laid surfaces by utility company contractors.
The joint-pledge is based on five key principles cooperation, communication; quality; safety and impact reduction – and includes:
· Businesses to be informed in advance of planned work and contacted when emergency work is needed. Also business given the chance to feed into local arrangements before work begins, for example on road closures.
· Contractor contracts to include a requirement for replacement work to be at a high standard and not at risk of subsequent defects. Also a commitment to – where possible – this work being carried out at the same time as the main work.
· Regular council inspections targeted to improve performance among contractors.
· Work to be carried out 24/7 to extended hours to ensure it is completed as quickly as possible. Sites not to be left unattended except where necessary, for example to let concrete dry.
· Work to be completed outside peak hours to allow the road to re-opened to traffic during peak hours.
· Councils to adopt a flexible approach to business deliveries during periods of disruption – for example through temporary changes to parking restrictions and enforcement.
Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said:
“Most streetworks are essential and utility companies generally carry them out efficiently and to a good standard. However, the cost of shoddy resurfacing can leave councils left to foot the bill and causing unnecessary disruption to communities.
“This issue can only be resolved by councils, utility firms and businesses getting around the table to find a solution. This pledge is an indication of where councils, utility companies and businesses want to be and we will all sit down again later this year to gauge its success.
“We are all committed to working together to minimise the disruption of streetworks on residents and businesses and this joint-commitment has been designed to drive improvement forward.”