Firms face big rise in roadwork penalties

FIRMS which allow roadworks to overrun will face a 10-fold rise in penalties under Government plans published today.

Offending companies will be fined 25,000 a day compared with the current 2,500 daily charge, Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said.

He also set out proposals for a tougher inspection regime giving councils more powers to charge utility companies for inspecting roadworks in their streets.

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Mr Khan said: "These new measures show just how serious the Government is about tackling problem roadworks which cost our economy 4.2bn each year.

"There is no excuse for those companies who allow their works to drag on for longer than they should, causing inconvenience and frustration for the travelling public. The new charges and tougher inspection regime will provide a strong incentive for utilities to finish works on time or pay for the disruption they cause."

Utility firms will not be permitted to pass the cost of these charges on to their customers.

The new inspection regime will mean that utility firms that consistently fail to keep their sites safe, or fail to replace the road surface properly, could be required to pay for additional inspections by councils.

Today's announcement forms part of the Department for Transport's street works action plan published in December 2009. It aims to reduce the disruption caused by street works and today's consultations will be followed shortly by announcements on improving safety at roadworks sites.

Last month, the Government published new guidelines to help councils crack down on overrunning roadworks.

It came as Kent County Council became the first authority outside London to introduce a permit scheme for roadworks forcing companies to apply for a permit before they start digging up streets and requiring them to abide by conditions on timing, co-ordination or the amount of road space to be left available to road users during the works.

Charges for firms who overrun their timetables for work were introduced in 2001.