Utility firms wanting to dig up roads in Liverpool will have to apply for permission to do so, in a drive to ensure better co-ordination of highways work.
Liverpool City Council is introducing a scheme which will require water, gas, electricity and telecommunications firms, councils and others wanting to excavate roads and pavements to secure a permit before starting work.
It is part of efforts to make sure work is better co-ordinated, planned and managed, reducing disruption and delays for drivers and other road users.
It is timely as the city council is set to spend £500 million improving highways infrastructure over the next 5-10 years, including new roads for major developments, road reconstruction, resurfacing, patching work and dealing with potholes.
Last year, there were 11,800 roadworks scheduled by utilities across the city, but contractors were only required to inform the council of the work that they are carrying out, giving the local authority limited powers to control activity.
Councillor James Noakes, Cabinet member for highways, said: “The permit scheme will enable us to get a grip of the roadworks being carried out by a range of organisations in the city.
“As a road user, I know there is nothing more frustrating than being held up by works that conflicts with other maintenance going on in the area.
“It is common for a road to be ripped up by one utilities firm one week, only to be torn up again by a different organisation the following week, leading to a duplication of effort, cost and disruption.
“In addition to work carried out by utilities firms, we are going to be spending hundreds of millions of pounds tackling decades of underinvestment, so it is more important than ever that we work together to properly plan the works.
“This is not about stopping essential emergency works such as gas or water leaks or power and telephone cable problems, but planned maintenance and improvements in infrastructure.”
Consultation took place with Cadent Gas, United Utilities, Scottish Power, BT Open reach, Virgin Media and Vodafone earlier this year, as well as the Department for Transport, Merseytravel, Merseyside Police and Mersey Fire and Rescue Service.
The cost of the permit, which varies depending on the location and type of works taking place, will be used to cover the administration of the scheme.