Pay as you go streetworks is not the way forward say utilities

The National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) has dismissed a call last week by the Local Government Association (LGA) for lane rental schemes for road working. NJUG said such scheme increase cost for consumers of water for little benefit.

NJUG said "Rather than trying to put bills up for customers we call on LGA to work with us to improve efficiency and coordination of all streetworks including those of local authorities.'"

LGA said lane rental schemes – whereby utilities are charged a daily rate for working on congested streets – would reduce overrunning of street works. LGA spokesman, councillor Peter Box, said: "Towns and cities faced gridlock at rush-hour unless robust and decisive action is taken'".

LGA claimed that a lane rental scheme introduced in London had nearly halved severe disruption from roadworks. It said such schemes provided an incentive for utility contractors to get jobs right first time. The LGA said its research findings showed that 2.5 million road openings a year were caused by utilities costing the taxpayer about £250m a year. And councils spend nearly a fifth of their maintenance budgets – some £220m – on repairing "poorly done utility streetworks". Earlier research by NJUG found that local authorities were responsible for some 50% of disruptive streetworks.

The Department of Transport said a report evaluating existing lane schemes in London and Kent was published earlier this year and "work formulate options is at a very early stage."