Cumbria Crack

Highways England launches review into utilities company road works after MP pressure

Complaints from Furness MP John Woodcock over utility company road works on the A590 has prompted a nationwide policy review by Highways England.

The independent MP demanded to know why the  authority that is responsible for trunk roads such as the A590 was not taking a tougher approach with gas, electricity and water firms whose lane closures have been causing major delays around Ulverston.

But bosses explained that utilities companies are legally permitted to access their mains to carry out their works and cannot be fined if they create unnecessary disruption.

Hopes that the problem could be fixed were dashed further when government ministers told Mr Woodcock they had no plans to extend to Highway England new fining powers being offered to certain local authorities under a so-called ‘lane rental’ scheme

But yesterday, John met with representatives from Highways England who revealed that his pressure had prompted an internal review that could see the agency asking government for power to impose financial penalties on utilities companies who outstay their welcome on their roads network.

Speaking after the meeting, John said: “I am pleased that Highways England is taking my suggestions seriously in response to the misery that has been inflicted on A590 drivers recently.

“I will keep lobbying the agency and the government to move to adopt these lane rental scheme fining powers against utilities companies taking road users for a ride.

“Strategic routes like the A590 are vital to the Furness economy and the safety of our citizens and it just does not make sense to offer these powers on lesser roads but not the ones on which hundreds of thousands of people rely.”

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