New street works regime to clamp down on pothole pain

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Potholes can damage tyres, suspension and in some cases, body panels. RICHARD SHARMAN

Smoother journeys and reduced congestion are two of the benefits promised as the Government clamps down on utility companies for leaving potholes behind after carrying out street works. From 1 April new regulations will come into force for a performance-based inspection regime to ensure utility companies resurface roads to the best possible standard after street works, potentially preventing thousands of potholes from developing in the future.

The move comes as the Government invests over £5.5 billion by 2025 in highways maintenance, and could help motorists and operators save money on repairs by reducing the amount of damage to tyres or suspension.

According to the Government, currently about 30% of utility companies’ street works are inspected, regardless of how well those street works are carried out. Under the new street works regime, utility companies will be assessed on the quality of their road repairs after carrying out works, with the best companies inspected less and the worse-performing companies inspected more, meaning that companies that leave behind roads in poor condition could see 100% of their street works inspected. With highway authorities now charging £50 per defect inspection and a further £120 for follow-up inspections, the Government hopes that poor performing companies will be incentivised to perform better to avoid incurring high financial charges. Although the average failure rate for street works by utility companies is around 9%, some of the worst performers are reported to be failing inspections in as many as 63% of cases.

The measures will also help drivers plan ahead and ease congestion as utility companies and local authorities will now be required to provide the Department for Transport’s street manager service with more up to date and accurate data on live works, including at weekends. Companies will be asked to provide information about when works start and stop at weekends and all local authorities must share start/stop information about their works. This will update satnavs and other apps to help motorists be aware of where works are taking place.