Report by Chief Executive Officer Alistair Cunningham
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Waste introduced a report seeking approval for the implementation of a Permit Scheme to manage streetworks in Wiltshire.
Cllr Wayman explained that making best use of the County’s road network is vital for the movement of people and goods, and the network supports the local economy and businesses. The road network also contains the essential infrastructure and services, including water, electricity, gas and telecommunications.
The Cabinet were reminded that the Council as the Local Highway Authority has a duty to co-ordinate works on the road network. The Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA) allows the Council to introduce a permit scheme, which would enable the Council to take a more active role in planning and coordinating streetworks. Statutory consultations have been undertaken with public utilities and others as required by the legislation, with 145 responses received from 8 organisations, which have been considered and following review it is proposed that the Council should introduce the permit scheme.
The Leader confirmed his support for the proposals and highlighted that additional staff resources would be needed for the system to operate effectively. However, a large proportion of the additional costs would be recovered through charges that can be made.
In response to a question from Cllr Jon Hubbard about potential additional costs impacting Parish and Town Council budgets, Cllr Wayman explained that the permits system referred to charges associated with road works undertaken by utilities and would not impact Parish or Town Councils budgets.
Cllr Ian Thorn, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, welcomed the proposals and questioned the need for the report to include wording on protecting the vulnerable as part of the section on relevance to the business plan.
In response to a question from Cllr Carole King about the accuracy of utility services underground maps, Cllr Wayman concluded that additional works were required to reflect a more accurate picture of where cables and pipes had been placed underground by utility companies.
Cllr Gordon King referred to a specific issue that a resident of Westbury had experienced about utility companies taking ownership of drain covers, especially when they become loose and rattle when passed over by vehicles. Cllr Wayman agreed to investigate the matter further.
1. The importance of managing streetworks on the highway network is acknowledged, and the potential benefits of a permit scheme are appreciated.
2. The results of the consultations have been reviewed and have been taken into account in considering the permit scheme.
3. To approve the implementation of a permit scheme for streetworks on the local highway network in Wiltshire as provided for in the Traffic Management Act 2004 from 1 April 2020.
4. Delegate authority to the Director, Highways and Environment to make the necessary arrangements, including instructing legal to execute all necessary documentation, in consultation with the Director of Finance and Procurement and the Cabinet Member, Highways, Transport and Waste as it is a countywide scheme which is the first of its kind for Wiltshire.
Reason for Proposal(s):
1. The introduction of a permit scheme for streetworks would have benefits in terms of improved management of works on the highway network, reduced traffic delays, reduced carbon footprint and improved safety. The fees generated by the scheme would be used to increase supervision and management of the public utilities and other work on the network.
2. The Department of Transport is encouraging authorities to adopt permit schemes for streetworks, and most authorities will have a scheme in place shortly.