Action urged against roadworks menace

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The Independent Online

The Government was urged today to stop the menace of utility companies claimed to have "total licence" to dig holes in London's roads and fill them in at leisure.

Tory former transport minister Lord Peyton of Yeovil told the Lords at question time that the "time had well come ... for someone to reimpose some measure of control on what now appears to be total licence" over roadworks which disrupted traffic in the capital's streets.

He said: "There is a growing impression that anyone with a mind to do so, and some shadow of an excuse, is free to go along, choose a piece of highway or street, occupy it, dig a hole in it at leisure, leave it for a while, go back to it and fill it in again."

Lord Peyton also called for telecom and utility company chairmen to put their telephone numbers on site information boards.

Junior transport minister Lord Whitty said the problem had arisen with the growth of telecommunication and cable companies and others who could get licenses to dig up highways - about 80 on latest figures.

An announcement would be made "shortly" after consultation to assess the need for legislation.

The code covering site notice boards was being revised, but they should give information on the organisation and could give an expected completion date.