If you missed an important appointment or meeting because the electricity company dug up the road in front of the building, you might find some relief from the following news that Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond wants utility companies to pay for this inconvenience.
He is encouraging councils to declare war on water, electricity and gas companies who dig up roads during rush hour, causing endless traffic jams.
This is the second attempt in the past ten years to make these guys think twice before they dig up a road in rush-hour traffic. Mr Hammond's proposal is that councils should charge the utility companies "rent" during peak traffic hours. He hopes this will force them to schedule the work for after hours in order to save money.
Twenty years ago, when John Major became Prime Minister, he announced a war on traffic cones blocking traffic without a worker in sight. He even established a hotline where motorists could report roads that were closed without any road works in progress.
He passed legislation in 1991 enabling councils to charge "rent" on high-traffic roads, but it was never implemented until the Labour government came into power in 2001. They launched two pilot schemes in Middlesbrough and Camden, but these were not followed up either. Since then so much other legislation has been passed that the whole thing has become virtually inoperable.
Let us hope this time there will be the political will to push this through.
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