The Government has today published its response to its street and road works further reforms consultation. The document lays out the Department for Transport’s plans primarily in relation to bringing forward plans on flexi permits and inspections.
Responding to this, Clive Bairsto, Chief Executive of Street Works UK said:
“The Government’s decision not to proceed with proposals to introduce flexi-permits is deeply disappointing. This decision represents muddled thinking based on a degree of risk aversion that does not embrace modern risk management fit for the 21st Century. Delivering the Government’s ambitions for levelling up and reaching net-zero will require an evolution of our infrastructure practices – and this can only be delivered by properly-empowered utilities working hard for the communities they serve in collaboration with highway authorities. We simply can’t deliver crucial infrastructure upgrades at the pace required if the Government isn’t willing to listen to the sector and take innovative steps to remove unnecessary bureaucratic burdens.
“Street Works UK supports the introduction of performance-based inspections in principle, but it’s vital that the DfT and local authorities now work closely with the street works sector to ensure that the data underpinning this approach and the methodology applied are robust and fair to all.
“It’s also disappointing and utterly disheartening to see the Government blame utilities for potholes across the country. As DfT Ministers know well, utilities play a pivotal role in keeping the lights on, water running, and keeping homes and businesses online 24/7 and 365 days a year. The street works sector is absolutely committed to delivering quality work that benefits communities. The vast majority of reinstatements are carried out to a high standard with no adverse impact to the road surface, despite a backdrop of sustained under-investment in the integrity of roads across the country. In the limited circumstances where issues do arise, there are already clear systems in place to inspect and correct reinstatements, and utilities are continually striving to drive up standards by deploying new technology and improving training”.