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
* 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
* 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
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.'
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
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
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
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.