Surrey and East Sussex County Councils roadwork permit victory

Surrey and East Sussex County Councils have been granted the power to decide when utility companies dig up the roads.

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has approved a proposal by both councils for firms to apply for permits before work begins.

Previously companies only had to inform the councils that roadworks would take place.

The initiative, called the South East Permit Scheme, will start this winter.

John Furey, Surrey County Council's cabinet member for transport and environment, said: "It will mean that rather than simply informing us of roadworks, companies will have to ask permission to work in a road for a specific period of time and specified purpose.

"So if two separate companies wanted to work on the same road, we could request they carry out their work at the same time. This means the road would only have to be closed once, halving congestion."

Surrey County Council said 45,000 roadworks take place annually in the county, costing its economy £100m due to the congestion.

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