New street works permit scheme set to benefit Northumberland by £9million - as well as making life easier for drivers

A new permit system for utility companies who want to dig up the roads in Northumberland is expected to result in £9million of benefits each year.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 4:20 pm
Updated Monday, 18th November 2019, 12:56 pm
A new permit system for utility companies who want to dig up the roads in Northumberland is expected to result in £9million of benefits each year.

Currently, Northumberland County Council runs a notification scheme, which sees the gas, electricity and water companies as well as the authority’s own highways teams provide notice about street and roadworks, which the relevant team then tries to coordinate.

The latest proposal means that they will now have to apply for a permit and the council can also apply more conditions about how those carrying out the work operate.

This is in line with a push from the Department for Transport, which wants all local authorities to move to permit schemes, as part of a wider move to create a new system to provide more information to the public about roadworks.

Northumberland’s new scheme was approved by the authority’s cabinet at its meeting on November 12 and is set to come into force in February.

Coun Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member for local services, said: “This has been annoying us as a council for years.

“It’s something we have been saying to Government for a few years now that we would like a permit scheme.”

The proposal was previously welcomed by councillors on the communities and place committee at its meeting in early October. Since then, a statutory consultation has taken place and ‘where appropriate, amendments have been made to the scheme documentation’.

The report to cabinet was also accompanied by a cost benefit analysis, which shows that for the first four years of the new system, the benefits – mainly due to improved journey times and reliability for both businesses and residents – will total more than £9million per annum.

This is set against total costs of £1.5million – through the permit fees for the utility companies, the council’s extra administration costs, etc – but still results in a net value of £7.5million.

The changes will mean an additional 3.5 full-time-equivalent jobs at the council to manage the process, which will be funded by the fees to be charged for the permits. There is currently no cost to the utility companies under the notification scheme.

The proposed fees will range from £35 for minor works on smaller streets up to £197 for major works.

The scheme is designed to be cost-neutral in line with the Government regulations, which say it can’t make profit, so the fees structure will be reviewed every year for the first three years and then every three years after that.