Utility Companies Blamed For Poor Roads

Through April and May, Central Bedfordshire highways inspectors picked up more than 100 instances of defective road reinstatements by utility companies within their area.

Every month inspectors working for Amey, Central Bedfordshire Council’s highways contractor, find examples where utility companies have dug up the road to undertake works but failed to reinstate it properly. Poor reinstatements can lead to road faults developing prematurely, including potholes.

According to a report published by the Local Government Association recently, poor road resurfacing work by utility companies costs taxpayers more than £200m a year, as local authorities are forced to repair street surfaces that have been re-laid by utility companies after roadworks.

The Government allows highways authorities to carry out inspections at a random 30 per cent of utility works, at the utility companies’ expense. Reports from the public of problems with utility trenches are also followed up with an inspection.

When defective utility trenches are found in Central Bedfordshire, the utility company responsible is issued with a formal notice requiring them to return and carry out remedial works. Further inspections are then carried out to make sure the defects have been properly corrected.

Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, Services, at Central Bedfordshire Council said: "Poor road resurfacing after utility works causes damage to the highway and additional disruption which is totally avoidable if it’s done properly the first time."

"Our highways inspectors are working hard to ensure that the utility companies and their contractors carry out resurfacing to the correct standard first time and put right any defects caused by them. We’re already tackling potholes caused by severe winter weather, and poor road reinstatements simply add to the problem."

On average, inspectors in Central Bedfordshire undertake approximately 400 utility site visits each month, and find between 50 and 70 reinstatements to be faulty.