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GOVERNMENT UNVEILS RADICAL CONGESTION-BUSTING BILL

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Radical congestion-busting measures were unveiled today by transport ...
Radical congestion-busting measures were unveiled today by transport

secretary Alistair Darling.

The Traffic Management Bill will give the Highways Agency and local

authorities in England and Wales far-reaching new powers and

responsibilities to keep roads clear, minimise the disruption caused

by road works, and keep traffic moving.

Announcing the legislation, Alistair Darling said: 'The Traffic

Management Bill will give the Highways Agency and councils powers

and a duty to keep roads clear and traffic moving. They will now

have to focus more sharply on tackling causes of congestion and

disruption.

'New powers for councils to manage when and where street works are

carried out will put an end to congestion caused by poorly planned

and lengthy works. Neighbouring authorities will be required to work

together to keep traffic flowing across the network.

'The Highways Agency will get powers to manage motorway incidents

which will mean motorists caught in traffic due to road accidents or

obstructions should benefit from a more targeted and faster clear-up

response. Traffic officers will be on scene following road incidents

to work with police to clear the road as quickly as possible. These

new powers, as well as new traffic enforcement provisions for

councils will also free up police time, allowing them to concentrate

on their other priorities.'

The Bill contains five key elements:

Management of motorway incidents

- The Highways Agency uniformed jam buster patrols will take over

responsibility from the police for getting traffic moving after road

incidents or breakdowns.

- The secretary of state will establish regional control centres to

monitor and manage traffic on the network.

Traffic management

- Each local authority will appoint a traffic manager responsible

for keeping traffic moving.

- Should an authority fail in this task, a traffic director

appointed by the secretary of state, could take over traffic

management in the authority.

Control of street works

- Councils will be given greater control over when and where utility

companies carry out street works to minimise disruption. They will

have powers to specify which route road works should follow and

decide what day of the week and at what times works can be carried

out.

- They will be given new powers to prevent roads from being dug up

repeatedly by banning works on a particular road until a specified

date. Any utility company wanting to carry out street works will be

required to apply for a permit to do so.

- Utility companies failing to repair a road properly will face

fines of up to £5,000 and be required to rectify previous poor work.

Civil enforcement of driving and parking offences

- Local authorities will take over certain traffic enforcement roles

from the police, such as enforcing box junction rules.

- Parking enforcement powers will also be strengthened. Government

can direct a local authority to apply for greater parking enforcement

powers.

London

The Bill will bring significant benefits to the capital:

- TfL will co-ordinate traffic management between boroughs and other

traffic authorities. The Bill will allow for the operation of a

single London-wide permit scheme covering all types of works in the

street.

- Where boroughs fail, a traffic director could be appointed to

intervene.

- The Bill extends the network of roads over which TfL may have

powers.

Notes

1. Provisions for the creation of the Highways Ag ency's traffic

officer service have been developed in response to a review of roles

and responsibilities in managing the strategic road network,

commissioned jointly by the Highways Agency and the Association of

Chief Police Officers. That report (available herewas published in June 2003, and

detailed the case for transferring a range of traffic management

tasks from the police to the Highways Agency.

4. Provisions in the Bill to improve controls over works in the

street amend the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and the Highways

Act 1980, under which most of the present regime exists. Most of the

details of the new arrangements will be set out in regulations once

the Bill becomes law.

5. Powers to charge utility companies 'lane rental', for each day of

disruption that their works cause, already exist under the Transport

Act 2000. The Traffic Management Bill does not alter these powers,

other than to provide that they can be extended to cover skips,

scaffolding and building materials when they occupy the highway.

6. The powers for greater civil enforcement of parking and moving

traffic offences exist already in London under the London Local

Authorities Act 2000, and the London Local Authorities and Transport

for London Act 2003. This Bill will extend those powers to cover the

rest of England and Wales.

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