From the New Year, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in Lewisham, Hackney and Croydon, should face fewer unnecessary roadworks and hazardous potholes.
They are among 18 London boroughs who have signed up to a Transport for London scheme that will make it obligatory for utility companies to apply for a permit before digging up roads.
The permit scheme, to be launched on January 11 makes it an offence for utility companies to begin roadworks on any of the red route roads or roads in the London boroughs that have signed up to the scheme without obtaining a permit.
By issuing permits TfL say they will be better able to plan and co-ordinate the timing of roadworks in order to reduce the disruption to road users caused by the 30, 000 holes dug in London’s roads every year. It will give TfL the power to impose conditions such as increased off-peak working times and clearer roadworks signage on gas and electric companies.
Welcoming this week’ announcement, Boris Johnson said: “This is long overdue. Drivers in London have too often been the victims of unnecessary roadworks, forced to sit stationary in traffic-clogged frustration caused by work sites reminiscent of the Mary Celeste. If companies want to dig up the roads, they must do so in a co-ordinated manner that causes the minimum disruption to Londoners – and this permitting scheme is a crucial step towards achieving a sensible solution.”
Lewisham Green councillor Sue Luxton cited the crippling roadworks in Brockley last year as an example of the mismanagement of construction. She said of the permit scheme: “The council will be able to plan things a bit better – I know it’s something they have wanted to get done for a long time.”
Speaking exclusively to EastLondonLines, Jo de Bank, spokesperson for London TravelWatch, the watchdog organisation representing the interests of transport users, said: “We’re pleased that the permit scheme for London’s roads is finally going ahead after years of being in ‘legislation limbo’. This will be welcome for not only car and van drivers and motorcyclists, but also bus passengers, who will hopefully find fewer, and better organised roadworks, mean fewer delays.”
In addition to permits, TfL are also in discussions with DfT to introduce a lane rental scheme which would require utility companies to pay a rental charge for every day they work on a road. This would encourage utility companies to work more efficiently.
Tower Hamlets borough council has declined to comment on whether or not they will participate in the scheme at a later date.