A new taskforce has resolved to improve the performance of those undertaking roadworks.
The roadworks taskforce also wants to make it easier for small businesses to claim compensation when works affect them.
The group – comprising councillors and representatives from utilities, business and local government – met for the first time this week at the Local Government Association.
The new taskforce was established following a roadworks summit called in March by the LGA and attended by transport minister Norman Baker, transport select committee chair Louise Ellman, highways bosses, utility company executives and business leaders.
The meeting discussed ways in which data on roadworks could be better shared between councils and utilities, particularly with regard to improving performance and helping councils better target inspections. This will build on existing good practice and help alleviate unnecessary delays during the initial works and reduce the need to go back to repair the highway following poor quality works, saving time and money.
Research by the LGA also showed roadworks can cost small businesses thousands of pounds a week in lost trade. Sharing existing best practice on liaising with local businesses to further minimise the impact of works and a straightforward guide for claiming compensation was proposed to help address this.
The meeting also heard that the Department for Transport-funded Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme will be surveying councils, utilities and businesses to identify best roadworks practice which can be shared with the sector.
Cllr Tony Ball, vice chair of the LGA’s economy and transport board, said: “By bringing utilities, councils and businesses together we can better understand each other’s needs, the challenges we face and why sometimes things go wrong. Ultimately we all want the same thing – well co-ordinated roadworks carried out efficiently and resurfaced to a high standard – and there’s no good reason why this can’t happen in every case.”
Samantha Brothwell, strategy and risk director of the National Joint Utilities Group, added: “This taskforce, which brings together the whole sector, provides a more effective way of getting the message out to everyone about the importance of high quality works and minimising disruption. We are therefore pleased to be working with the LGA and all those on the task force to help continue this important work.”
The organisations represented on the taskforce are the LGA, National Joint Utilities Group Ltd, the Department for Transport, National Grid, Transport for London, Severn Trent Water, Western Power Distribution, the Joint Authorities Group, the Association of Convenience Stores, British Retail Consortium and Highways Maintenance and Efficiency Programme.
The next meeting will take place in July when representatives of contractors will be invited to attend.