The end of road misery?

Will new council powers end road misery in St Helens?
Will new council powers end road misery in St Helens?
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COUNCIL chiefs in St Helens have won new powers to clamp down on poorly managed roadworks.

Under the scheme, officials will be able to fine contractors up to £5,000 if they fail to minimise disruption to the travelling public.

They’ll also be able to impose tough restrictions on the way companies operate before they begin a project.

St Helens is only the fourth council in the UK to gain the new powers.

Council bosses will now issue a permit to companies who want to work on the borough’s roads spelling out exactly when the roadworks should end and how they are expected to complete the project.

Councillor Alison Bacon, cabinet member for Environmental Protection, (pictured) said: “As well as giving companies a powerful incentive to meet deadlines, the permit scheme gives us more control over the work that’s carried out on the borough’s roads.

“Road works are a fact of life. But it’s the travelling public who suffer unnecessarily when they overrun – with frustrating delays and diversions that can seriously affect the local economy.”

The first permit scheme will be issued once the new powers come into affect in April.

Under the scheme council chiefs will also be able to specify methods of working, traffic management arrangements, publicity, road space and environmental considerations.

Currently, utility companies only have to give the council notice of their intention to start work.

Contractors breaching permit conditions – or working without a permit - can be issued with a fixed penalty notice or, in serious cases, prosecuted, with courts able to impose a maximum fine of £5,000.