This is the conclusion of a recent CBI and CLP seminar, attended by local authorities, businesses and utilities, which highlighted the complexities of delivering utility services while keeping London moving. Through the debate a number of key themes emerged and as a result CBI and CLP will be taking forward the following:
* develop a clearer assessment of the effects of legislation, such as Camden's pilot lane rental scheme, ensuring the right balance is struck between improving traffic flow and not placing operational and financial constraints on utilities
* to lobby and work more closely with Transport for London on developing initiatives to help maintain traffic flows on major routes in central London
* develop an economic assessment of the impact of streetworks
* improving public and business understanding of streetworks and creating an environment for informed debate
CBI president John Egan said: 'We appreciate the frustration of road users delayed by disruption but we must recognise that streetworks must be undertaken if businesses are to retain their competitive advantage. Quality utility services and telecoms networks matter to business as much as efficient transport routes. Much of the work is essential to ensuring services are reliable and sufficiently available.
'The challenge is to minimise the impact on other road users. Improved co-operation between local authorities, utilities and contractors is fundamental if streetworks are going to be better co-ordinated in the future. This will also require a climate of much greater openness between all parties than exists at present.'
Patricia Brown, chief executive of Central London Partnership, said 'Legislation has its part to play and we will be examining very closely the effects of these initiatives, on both road users and the quality of utility services. But the heart of any solution will need to be vastly improved co-ordination, both of the works themselves and of information.
'This information also needs to be managed and communicated effectively - for example, a centralised web-based system would provide people with a mechanism to check where streetworks are taking place and thus avoid them. Also, the emerging business improvement districts could be a way of ensuring everyone in a locality are aware in advance of works as well as ensuring good management and reinstatement.'
One of the key themes which emerged was the need for companies to share ducting. The initiative by the Corporation of London, which involves laying empty duct pipe on top of existing trenches saves new service providers from having to dig up the road to lay new ducting and is a shining example of what can done.
CLP is a not-for-profit partnership, which brings together key private and public sector organisations in central London. CLP's members include local authorities at leader level and a range of public sector providers including the Metropolitan Police, along with major businesses who have a concern for central London, as well as a direct commercial interest in its future. Working together to identify common priorities and resolve them, CLP's mission is fundamental: to make central London a better place in which to live, work, invest and visit.