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Councils could face £5,000 fee per day for weekend roadworks

Councils and utility companies could be forced to pay up to £5,000 per day if roadworks are left in place over the weekend when no-one is actually working, the government has said.

Under new rules being considered by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, local authorities could also be charged hefty fines if they leave temporary traffic lights in place after work is completed on local A roads.

Staff on A roads managed by councils will have to either work during the weekend to finish projects sooner or take away roadwork equipment on Friday and put it back in place the following Monday.

The option of seven-day working is being actively encouraged by the government to ensure works finish as quickly as possible.

McLoughlin commented: “Roadworks can be essential, but that doesn’t mean they should be in place any longer than is absolutely necessary. That is why I am looking at proposals to reduce queues and make drivers’ lives easier.

“These common sense measures will be a welcome relief to those trying to get from A to B on our local roads.

“Over Christmas we were able to lift a massive number of roadworks on trunk roads, but this package of measures will benefit drivers all the year round.”

Ministers reminded authorities that they will still need to carry out essential works such as fixing potholes and re-surfacing, but assuming the rules go ahead, ministers will be able to crack down on unnecessary roadwork delays and inconvenience.

Responding to the government's plans, the LGA's environment spokesperson, Cllr Peter Box, said that roadworks are often left unattendend "for a very good reason", such as to let the concrete dry. 

"These fines may mean we end up paying people to watch concrete dry because it is cheaper," he said, adding that there is already "strong financial incentive" to finish roadworks as quickly as possible because hiring equipment and staff is so expensive.

“Councils and utility companies are working closely together to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum. We have long called for the expansion of the lane rental scheme, which currently operates in London, where it has reduced delays significantly. Under the scheme, contractors pay for the time they occupy busy roads and are therefore incentivised to get the job done properly and on time," Box added.

“The country currently has a £12bn backlog of pothole repairs and one in five roads is classed as being in poor condition, but more people than ever are using the roads. Councils need more powers to tackle congestion. Measures which would meet this objective include fully funding the concessionary fares scheme, handing control over the Bus Service Operators' Grant – a fuel duty rebate paid directly to bus operators by the government – to councils and giving them the power to enforce moving traffic violations, including illegal U-turns and box junction offences, to tackle congestion hotspots.”

There is already an existing penalty of £5,000 for roadworks that overrun their schedules, but the expanded levy would be brought in as part of the government’s £15bn road investment strategy.


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