Just been on LBC where Nick Ferrari was particularly exercised about the number of roadworks affecting the capital. He has a point – though his antipathy to bus lanes is misplaced – because there does seem to be more works than ever before. That’s because of the mains replacement by Thames Water, Crossrail, various cable companies and so on.
The problem is the lack of coordination and the way that holes are left unfilled. I remember writing about this in the 1980s when a streetworks act was brought in supposedly to deal with this. But its the same old story : the utilities mounted a strong lobbying campaign and fatally weakened the act. Now there is a voluntary scheme in London, which does not catch the rogues, and there is talk of a permit system, but that will need government approval. The simplest way of dealing with it would be to charge the utilities high rentals to take over lanes – that would ensure the work was carried out efficiently but the utilities have seen off attempts to do this, claiming it would be an unfair tax on them. It is amazing that such an obvious problem has not been dealt with for so long, but it demonstrates yet again how the public is in hock to the private in this country because of weak governance.