Utility firms are fined £50 per inspection plus a further £120 for follow-ups
New government initiates comes as part of highways investment after 70% repairs not inspected
Utility firms that leave behind potholes and road damage following work will be forced to repair them under new laws announced by the government today.
The major clampdown, tabled by the Department for Transport (DfT), will mean strict reviews are carried out post-work, taking the form of performance-based inspections, with the cost of the review billed to the respective firm: £50 per inspection plus a further £120 for follow-ups.
As an incentive, firms that carry out higher-quality repairs will have fewer government inspections than the worse-performing ones. Companies returning unfavourable results could have all of their street works inspected.
This news comes after the DfT revealed that just 30% of works are inspected after they’ve been finished, regardless of how well the works have been completed.
It was found that 13% of the UK’s telecommunications companies are responsible for poor street repairs (the government didn’t name individual firms), making them the worst-performing sector and one to which close attention will be paid, Westminster said.
During a recent trial period, average inspection failure rates sat at 9%, with some of the worst-performing companies failing 63% of their inspections. Arriving as the Street Works Regime (SWR), it comes with a £5.5 billion highway-maintenance investment, which will be spent over the next two years to ensure fewer claims for tyres and suspension repairs are made by road users.
An additional £200m investment in the Potholes Fund, thought to come as part of the bigger fund, was also announced during the 2023 Spring Budget.
The news has been welcomed by some of the UK’s top motoring firms, albeit with caution.
Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of roads policy, said: “This welcome measure is long overdue and ensures those who dig up the road put it back in good condition. Time after time, drivers up and down the country see the filled in trenches of work carried out by utilities companies, only to find craters appear shortly after the cones are removed. Giving councils more powers to call the culprits back and fix their mistakes is only right, but we hope this policy provides the crucial benefit of getting road repairs right first time.”
Nicholas Lyes, the RAC’s head of roads policy, said: “It’s incredible that council funding is now so inadequate that almost one in five roads have under five years’ structural life left. This means the gap between the money councils have and what they need is widening, with road users ultimately left suffering.”
Announcing the crackdown, transport secretary Mark Harper claimed the SWR was a “victory for all road users”, meaning motorists and cyclists will be “able to enjoy smoother, safer and less congested journeys as we continue to level up transport across the country and grow the economy”.