Roadworks Charges For Utility Firms Will Cut Congestion - Councils
Councils are demanding new powers to charge utility companies a daily rate for digging up roads in a bid to reduce traffic disruption.
The Local Government Association, which represents dozens of authorities across England and Wales, is calling on the Government to act to end the gridlock faced by millions of motorists.
It wants councils to be able to introduce so-called lane rental schemes, where firms pay up to £2,000 per day for the work they do on the busiest roads at peak periods, without the need to get approval from the Transport Secretary.
The LGA believes making it easier to charge utility companies would give an added incentive to finish work as quickly as possible.
Revenue generated from the scheme would be invested in further work to reduce congestion.
LGA transport spokesman Councillor Peter Box said there is a need for "robust and decisive action" and that councils are "being hamstrung by a lack of effective powers to tackle this issue".
"Councils know their areas best and should be able to make decisions about traffic locally," he said.
"This means they need the option of being able to introduce lane rental schemes without Secretary of State approval, which is time-consuming and bureaucratic."
Only Transport for London and Kent County Council have been granted approval to run lane rental schemes.
The LGA said the scheme in London has been a major success, significantly reducing levels of severe disruption caused by roadworks.
Mr Box said: "While most utility companies are responsible and councils want to work with them, a minority do a poor job.
"Expanding the lane rental scheme nationwide would incentivise utility companies to do the job right first time around and help get our traffic moving again."