By Marcus Leach

Plans to axe red tape for councils wanting to put in place schemes to tackle disruptive road works were published today (Tuesday) by Regional and Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.

Street works permit schemes give councils more power to coordinate works and once in place both utility companies and local authorities must abide by strict conditions including time limits, coordination or the amount of road space to be left available to road users. Anyone who breaks the terms of their permit or works without a permit could be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £5,000.

At the moment, councils wanting to operate a permit scheme need approval from the Department for Transport. The proposals put forward today would remove that requirement and give councils more flexibility in putting the schemes in place.

"Councils should be spending their time improving the lives of their local residents not being bogged down by unnecessary bureaucracy. That is why I am proposing that local councils should be able to put in place permit schemes to improve the co-ordination of works on their roads without needing to get approval from central government," Norman Baker said.

"I hope that this will encourage more councils to develop permit schemes and make use of them to help reduce disruption and frustration for the travelling public."

Under the plans, councils will still need to comply with the law on the penalties and requirements they can impose on utility companies when operating a permit scheme.

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