Agenda item

Annual Street Works Permit Scheme Reports and Draft Traffic and Network Management Plan

Report of Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport


The Committee considered a report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport regarding the County Council’s Annual Street Works Permit Schemes for Years 1 and 2 (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2022) and draft Traffic and Network Management Plan (schedule 2 to the signed minutes).


The County Council’s Cabinet approved the introduction of a permit scheme for all publicly maintained roads within Staffordshire, in August 2019, in exercise of its powers under section 33A (2) of the Traffic Management Act 2004. The effect of an Order under the Act was to require Statutory Promoters (including utility companies and the Highway Authority) to apply for a permit to undertake work on the Highway rather than to give notice of their intension to carry out work. In promoting such an Order it was anticipated that the Authority could exercise greater control of work by third parties for the purposes of:- (i) achieving value for money; (ii) promoting better working practices; (iii) improving coordination and quality of works; (iv) keeping residents and Highway users better informed of works in their areas and; (v) reducing the impact of essential works.


At their meeting on 18 March 2020 Cabinet agreed that the County Council should become a Permit Authority for road and street works with effect from 1 April 2020 and Members noted that since going live, the number of applications for Permits and Variations had increased significantly.


A legal requirement of the scheme was that Annual Reports should be produced by Highway Authorities for each of the first three years of operation and then each third year thereafter. The format of these Reports was set out in The Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC) England Advice Note published in January 2016. Also, schemes were required to operate on a ‘cost neutral’ basis with all funds generated being used for their function.  


Members heard that the Traffic and Network Management Plan (TNMP) would formalise the operation of the Permit Scheme with other policies such as the Authority’s Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Plan and Bus Service Improvement Plan and how the approach of the County Council’s Traffic and Network Management Team, who were responsible for processing Permit applications, influenced the Local Transport Plan, currently under review.     


During the full and wide-ranging discussion which ensued, Members gave detailed scrutiny to the Annual Report and draft TNMP headings, asking questions, seeking clarification and raising issues of concern as necessary, including:- (i) the suitability of diversion routes promoted by Statutory Undertakers; (ii) the need to ensure temporary signage was removed from sites on completion of highway works; (iii) payment of penalties by Statutory Undertakers and measures available to the Highway Authority to recover arrears/outstanding debt; (iv) channels of communication with Statutory Undertakers and how these might be improved for the benefit of local residents; (v) ‘Local’ Member involvement in resolving Highway issues; (vi) the level of fines imposed for breaches of permit conditions and; (vii) procedures under the scheme for resolving defective work.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That the Street Works Permit Scheme Annual Report for Years 1 and 2 (1 April 2020 – 31 March 2022) indicating the successful operation of the Scheme during that time, be welcome.


(c) That the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport consider lobbying Central Government regarding the level of fees and charges applicable under the Scheme to ensure they better reflect the scope of the Authority’s strategic aims, as set out above.


(d) That the proposed format/headings for the Traffic and Network Management Plan be supported and that the draft Plan be presented to the Committee for Scrutiny when it becomes available in Spring 2024.

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