UTILITY firms such as Severn Trent, gas suppliers Cadent and BT Openreach could be hit in the pocket for over-running roadworks under new plans being considered by county highways chiefs.
Coun Alan Amos revealed plans to charge utility firms by the day or even by the hour for digging up the road at the recent cabinet meeting at County Hall in Worcester.
“One of the biggest problems we have is traffic congestion and one of the biggest issues is works by utility companies frequently over-running and frequently not coming up to standard,” said Coun Amos (Con, Bedwardine).
“It’s a war of attrition out there and we have a zero tolerance policy on this.
“The first time we can do this by law is April 2021 and we will introduce a lane rental system where we will charge utilities to dig up the road.”
At the moment a permit system is in operation lasting a period of days – even if the work is completed well within the permit period.
“We’ll charge them by the hour or by the day and it will be in their interest, in fact everyone’s interest, to get the work done properly and on time and if they overrun they will have to pay for it,” said Coun Amos.
He added that the money earned from overruns would go to pay for extra inspectors to make sure work by utilities is up to standard.
“At the moment we don’t have the resources to do 100 per cent of the inspections but if their work is substandard we will fine the maximum,” he added.
“Utilities are making hundreds of thousands of pounds in profits and I have always found that with utilities the only thing they understanding is hitting them in their pockets.”