Together with other councils in the North East, we received a letter from the Secretary of State for Transport in July 2018. This letter asked us to introduce a permit scheme for street works activities.
The main reason behind the request is that it will give the council greater control over works on our highway network. Along with our regional colleagues, we intend to introduce a permit scheme, which is already in progress.
The total length of the highway network in Middlesbrough is more than 320 miles (515km) and reflects the mixed character of Middlesbrough. These networks range from major urban routes to minor rural roads.
The network includes:
- 326 miles of highway
- 721 miles of footways
- 22,000 streetlights
- 215 bridges and other highway structures
- 135 traffic signal-controlled junctions or crossings
An efficient road network is an important element of the council's vision of making Middlesbrough a place where everyone thrives. It is fundamental to the borough's economy, enabling businesses to deliver goods and services.
It also allows local people to access services such as:
- leisure activities
It also keeps communities connected and is vital for visitors to the borough and wider region.
Roadworks can cause significant disruption to the smooth running of the network. This includes by utility companies, developers and maintenance work by the authority. Whilst this may be necessary work, it is important that it is managed as effectively as possible.
There is currently a system in place whereby works promoters give notice to the authority to carry out works on the highway. Promoters are statutory undertakers, such as gas, electricity, water and telecommunications providers.
But, as long as the required notice periods are adhered to, the council has very little control over the timing or duration of those works.
Under the proposed permit scheme, promoters will have to book time on the highway network by applying for a permit before carrying out any works. Special arrangements will apply in respect of emergency works.
Similar schemes have already been implemented by most other local authorities. The Government considers these to be a success. A permit scheme will allow us to manage and coordinate essential roadworks. In particular, it will aim to:
- increase the efficient running of the highway network
- protect the structure of the street and the apparatus belonging to utility companies and others within it
- improve the safety of those using the street and those working on activities that fall within the scheme
- ensure that better and more accurate information is available for road users about work on the highway