Call for roadworks permit scheme in Ipswich in bid to limit traffic disruption

A system of permits was rejected by Suffolk County Council.

A system of permits was rejected by Suffolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

Opposition councillors in Ipswich have called on highways teams to introduce a permit scheme in a bid to lessen the impact of disruptive roadworks.

A permit scheme – which some other councils across the country use – would require all utility firms that want to work on a road to apply for a permit. Any overrunning of works or traffic lights being left would then result in a penalty.

Following the launch of the Star’s Roadworks Watch campaign, Labour spokeswoman for transport Sandra Gage has made fresh calls for the scheme to be introduced.

She said: “Labour councillors have given up trying to get a clear understanding of what is happening on our roads; it’s an uncoordinated mess. A permit scheme would require everyone to book and stick to the dates advertised, and we would all know what’s happening.

“The traffic management setting up is sub-contracted by all utilities now, and they put in the cones for their scheduling convenience, with no regard to the hassle prolonged temporary traffic lights cause to the public. We need a County Council – our highway authority – to be standing up for residents and business in our town.”

The call comes after the Star encountered four sets of roadworks between 12noon and 1pm on Wednesday where no work was taking place.

But Suffolk County Council highways chiefs have said the permit would not necessarily reduce working time.

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James Finch, county council cabinet member for highways and transport said: “No public utility company wants to spend more time than they need to working on the highway as it costs them money. We already have agreements in place to charge for works that over run.

“The perception that a permit scheme would reduce the working time is misleading as the companies would simply factor in more time for the work to happen in order to ensure they were not in a position to be fined.

“Suffolk Highways works closely with all public utility companies when it comes to planned works to reduce the disruption as much as possible. Public utilities have a statutory right to work on the highway network to maintain and improve their own mains network and equipment and we choose to work with them rather than against them in order to manage the volume of work that needs to be completed.”

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