Utility firms 'should pay rental for London roadworks'

Utility firms should pay a "rental" for every day they are digging up busy roads, a business group has said.

Setting a fee for roadworks was the only way to reduce disruption, according to London First.

There are an estimated 5,000 sets of roadworks in the city each day and it said the resulting congestion cost businesses £4bn a year in wasted time.

"Anyone who's digging roads up should be paying," said chief executive Baroness Valentine.

"On the main roads, there should be lane rental," she added.

"On the slightly lesser roads there should be permits, which need to be managed well, and on the micro roads, probably there should be nothing because we've got to concentrate on the congestion caused by it."

In January Transport for London introduced a permit scheme, adopted by 18 of London's 33 councils, which meant companies would need permission before beginning any roadworks.

It was an election pledge of Mayor Boris Johnson to make traffic flow more smoothly.

One of the boroughs which signed up was Hammersmith and Fulham, and deputy leader Nicholas Botterill said it was essential for firms to complete work in "the most time-efficient manner".

"It may not be the most efficient manner as far as they're concerned, but actually as far as our residents are concerned, it's got to be better that these works are carried out as quickly as possible."

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