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NEW POWERS TO TACKLE CONGESTION

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The Traffic Management Bill, which will create new measures to tackle ...
The Traffic Management Bill, which will create new measures to tackle

congestion caused by incidents on motorways and badly managed work by

utility companies and local authorities, became law today, roads

minister David Jamieson has announced.

The Act will help local councils and the Highways Agency to manage

roads more effectively, and cut out some of the unnecessary

disruption that holds up people's journeys. It will also reduce the

billions of pounds per year which disruption to traffic caused by

utility companies' streetworks costs the UK economy.

The changes below will be rolled out between now and the end of this

year:

* Uniformed Highways Agency traffic officers are working with the

police on motorways in the West Midlands already, helping motorists

and assisting with any incident that occurs on the motorway network.

The Traffic Management Act will give them extra powers to clear up

quickly around incidents and keep traffic moving.

* A new duty will be placed on every local traffic authority to keep

traffic moving on their roads, and to work with their neighbours for

the benefit of the road network as a whole.

* Higher fines will aim to stop utility companies committing offences

when doing street works. This will be complemented next year by

powers for authorities to take swift action against offending

utilities through fixed penalty notices.

* Transport for London will have stronger powers to manage strategic

roads in the capital.

Work is already underway to implement further measures during 2005:

* Local authorities will be able to run permit schemes. Those

wishing to carry out works in the street would be required to apply

for a permit before doing the works, and would have to comply with

stricter conditions (such as how much road space works could take up,

and if there were times at which works must not take place). There

would be fines for those who did not comply with the conditions.

* To minimise disruption, local authorities will be given specific

powers to prevent the same roads being dug up again and again, and

further powers to tell utilities to change the dates that they plan

to do their works.

* New powers will help authorities tackle abuse of the Blue Badge

scheme for disabled people.

The new Act would also allow the introduction of further powers:

* Where a long succession of works by utilities has left roads in an

unacceptable condition, utilities could be made to contribute towards

resurfacing large sections of affected roads.

* Utility companies that consistently failed to reinstate the road

properly after their works could be made to fund a larger number of

inspections of their works than those whose works are done to an

acceptable standard.

* Powers already being piloted in London for local authorities to

enforce minor traffic offences (including offences at box junctions

and banned turns) could be extended to councils in other parts of the

country.

Mr Jamieson said:

'The government's is committed to tackling congestion and making

journeys more reliable. Making better use of the capacity we have is

at the heart of the government's transport strategy. These new powers

signal a new focus on how we manage our roads, and I expect the

public to see improvements both on local roads and motorways as they

are rolled out.

'The new Act will also give every local traffic authority in the

country a specific duty to keep traffic moving, with reserve powers

for the government to take action in the event of failure.

'We are giving authorities stronger powers to manage and co-ordinate

the works in their area, so that they cause as little disruption as

possible. The disruption caused by utility companies alone digging up

roads costs the nation billions of pounds each year. We have to make

the work they carry out more efficient to reduce this.

'The Highways Agency's traffic officers are already being deployed in

the West Midlands and all 1,200 will be rolled out across the country

by the end of next year. They are there to be an asset for the

motorist and this Act will give them powers to keep traffic moving

around incidents, making journeys quicker for us all.'

Notes

1. The Traffic Management Bill was introduced into parliament in

December 2003. opies of the Act, together with Explanatory Notes,

can be found at www.parliament.uk

2. Creation of the Highways Agency's Traffic Officer service follows

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 was published in

June 2003, and can be found at

www.highways.gov.uk/aboutus/corpdocs/r_and_r/2003/index.htm

3. Traffic officers are already working with the police on motorways

in the West Midlands. Further details of how the service will be

rolled out across the rest of the country can be found on the

Highways Agency's website, at

http://www.highways.gov.uk/knowledge/tcc/traf_off/02.htm

4. The government will issue guidance to local traffic authorities on

exercising the network management duty. Public consultation on a

draft of that guidance is already underway. A copy of the

consultation document can be found at

http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_roads/documents/page/dft_roads_029655.pdf

5. New powers for local authorities to manage works in the street

amend the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, and The Highways Act

1980. Separate powers to charge utility companies 'lane rental', for

each day of disruption that their works cause, already exist under

the Transport Act 2000. The new Act does not alter these powers, in

relation to utilities.

6. 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. The new Act would allow for extension of the same powers to

authorities in the rest of England and Wales.

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