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Utility companies at risk of fines if roadworks overrun in Sussex
Utility companies can now be fined thousands of pounds for overrunning roadworks in Sussex.
From November, firms wanting to dig up the road will have to apply for a permit to carry out work in East Sussex, as well as being forced to pay extra to work on busy thoroughfares during rush hour.
The joint East Sussex County Council and Surrey County Council project, called the South East Permit Scheme, aims to minimise road congestion for motorists during some of the busiest times of the day.
Officials also hope it could reduce delays caused by multiple bouts of work being done at different times on the same stretch of road.
Fixed penalties of £300 can be imposed for companies starting work earlier or later than scheduled and up to £3,000 a can be charged for overrunning work.
Carl Maynard, lead member for transport and the environment at East Sussex County Council, said the scheme would allow the council to be more “proactive” in controlling when and where roadworks were carried out.
He said: “Utility companies have no choice but to dig up roads when work needs to be carried out but we must make sure disruption to motorists is minimal.
“Conditions can be attached to permits to make sure commuters are not held up and school traffic can flow freely.
“The council can also stop utility companies starting work when we know big community events are being held.
“Although there’ll be times when emergency work is needed, the new scheme should allow the council to have greater control over who is digging up our roads and when.”
Brighton and Hove City Council is not yet part of the scheme, but could have a proposal ready to give to the Government by the end of the year.
Green councillor Ian Davey, chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s transport committee, said: “We’d like to go ahead but we are in the process of putting something together for the secretary of state for perhaps the end of the year.
“It’s a long process to get a proposal together, which includes consulting utility companies.
“But we’re committed to going through with it if we’re able to.”
It’s thought the scheme would cost Brighton and Hove City Council about £200,000 to set up, which would then be recovered by making companies pay for permits.
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