No roadworks licence for Ipswich despite misery for motorists in the town

Gas company Cadent is installing a new main in Norwich Road in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Gas company Cadent is installing a new main in Norwich Road in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council has rejected calls to introduce a licencing system for utilities wanting to dig up roads despite growing anger about congestion in Ipswich.

Many of the roads into the town centre have been hit with new year roadworks over the last week – and in many cases obvious diversion routes have also had roadworks introduced at the same time.

Norwich Road, Bramford Road, Nacton Road, Foxhall Road, Wherstead Road, and Spring Road are just some of the key roads that have been blighted by roadworks.

The problems prompted opposition transport spokesman Jack Owen to call for better co-ordination from the county council to ease motorists’ misery in Ipswich.

However, Suffolk County Council deputy leader Jane Storey, who is currently responsible for roads at the county, said introducing a licence system would introduce more bureaucracy. The county’s “network assurance team” officers worked with utilities to try to plan the best time for work to take place.

She said: “Inspectors from the network assurance team work alongside utility firms to make sure utility work complies with legislation, health and safety and avoids as much disruption as possible.

“There is a lot of negotiation which goes into this and we are looking at ways of working more closely in partnership with utility companies to plan and co-ordinate works.

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“We encourage utilities to put up signs as early as possible warning of disruption, but given that many utility jobs are responding to emergency works, it is not always possible.

“Whether we are under a permit scheme or not, the nature and duration of works would be the same and overruns would still happen.

“A permit scheme would simply incur additional costs and resources to the council and the utilities, increase bureaucracy, and ultimately divert crucial funding away from works on the ground. This may even lead to an increase in costs for utilities’ customers.”

“We recognise that we need to look at different ways of co-ordinating works with utility companies and other contractors and we plan to debate this in a cross-party committee later in the year.”