Report of the Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste (HIW/19/74) on the Council’s proposals to introduce a Permit Scheme across the County for works on the highway, attached.
An Impact Assessment is also attached for the attention of Members at this meeting.
(Councillors Biederman, Connett, Dewhirst and Hannaford attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste (HIW/19/74) outlining proposals to introduce a Permit Scheme across the County for works on the highway, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Cabinet Member highlighted that roadworks were an emotive issue and featured highly in many Members and Officers email inboxes. The Council was currently consulting with key stakeholders, utility companies and the Council’s contractors, on changing how the Council planned and managed works on the highway network. The Council currently operated a ‘noticing’ regime and the alternative arrangement being considered was a Permit scheme. Under a permit scheme, works promoters would have to ask permission from the Council which would be approved, rejected or with various conditions, giving the Council greater control over the network.
Permits would incur a charge, although maximum fees were set by DfT. Other Highway Authorities who had introduced such schemes had generally seen reductions of between 5-10% in the disruption on the network.
The Report outlined the steps that had been taken to assess the impact of introducing such a scheme, how the scheme would run and the reasoning behind the proposed recommendations.
There was a cost to the Authority to administer the scheme, for example additional staff and amendments to existing software to cater for permits. However, the costs would be recovered through the fee income and the scheme was intended to be broadly cost neutral over a three-year period. The initial set-up costs (project management, training and ICT infrastructure) were estimated at £157,099 (See Table 1 in Appendix 2). It had been calculated that 18 staff would be needed, which would require the appointment of an additional 12.4 FTE new posts (the total additional costs associated with these new posts was £647,150, but a full breakdown included at Table 2 in Appendix 2).
Full detail of the proposed scheme (the Permit Plan) was in Appendix 1 of the Report.
An informal consultation was held between May – July 2019 but a dedicated micro site had been developed and was being publicised for interested parties https://www.devon.gov.uk/workspermit-scheme. Subject to approval, a formal consultation would be held in October / November 2019 as part of the statutory Legal Order advertising process.
The scheme could potentially reduce emissions due to less delay caused by roadworks (less queuing and diversions) and other benefits by allowing reduced permit charges for companies that either site shared or worked in the same trench lines. Other benefits could be achieved by offering discounted permit fees for works promoters who used environmentally friendly methods of working.
The Chief Officer’s Report incorporated an Impact Assessment circulated for the attention of Members. This outlined that the scheme should encourage efficient roadworks, reduce congestion, therefore be a positive visual and audible impact on residents and businesses. The proposed Permit Scheme would not negatively impact on any user group.
The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Chief Officer’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor Hughes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that the introduction of a roadworks permit scheme for all roads for which Devon County Council is the Highway Authority for from 1st March 2020, in line with the Permit Plan and associated fee structure as set out on Page 39 of Appendix 1, be approved;
(b) that subject to (a) approval be given to advertise the required Legal Order and, if no significant objections are received, be made and sealed;
(c) that the Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste be given delegated authority to make minor alterations/adjustments to the Roadworks Permit Plan in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Highway Management;
(d) that the existing team establishment be increased by 12.4 FTE permanent posts, with recruitment commencing at the earliest opportunity; and
(e) that initial set up costs are funded by On-Street Parking Account.
[NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available at: http://new.devon.gov.uk/impact/].