Companies wanting to carry out work on public roads will now have to apply to East Sussex County Council for a permit and pay a fee for permission to work on the busier roads in the county.
The South East Permit Scheme, a joint initiative with Surrey County Council, will prevent work starting on the county’s busiest roads during rush hour, encourage companies to carry out work at the same time using the same trenches, and control where workers park their vehicles – reducing disruption for drivers.
“Utility companies have every right to dig up East Sussex roads when work needs to be carried out to their apparatus,” said Cllr Carl Maynard, the county council’s lead member for transport and the environment. “But we all know the frustration roadworks can cause.
“This new scheme will enable the council to be more proactive in controlling when and where work is carried out and keep the disruption down to a minimum.”
Previously, utility companies only have to give notice that they are carrying out work, leaving East Sussex County Council to liaise with companies to minimise congestion.
The new way of working means the council can attach conditions to permits preventing work from being carried out at certain times during the day and stopping several companies working on different parts of a road at the same time.
Under the scheme East Sussex County Council will be able to issue fines for overrunning work and work taking place outside the conditions of the permit.
Tougher penalties can also be given for inadequate road repairs by utilities companies, who will face a second charge for a permission to return and repair the road properly. This will encourage first time, good quality reinstatement of trenches.
The permit scheme applies on all roads in East Sussex. Fixed penalties of £300 can be imposed for companies starting work earlier and working later than their permit allows, and up to £3,000 a day can be charged for overrunning work.