The Government has published a new version of the statutory code of practice for street works, and quietly backtracked on initial plans to increase the guarantee on road openings from two to five years.
The Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways (SROH) is a statutory code of practice last updated in 2010. It had since dated was leading to disputes.
As part of the update, the Department for Transport under Chris Grayling saw the opportunity to help authorities deal with the maintenance backlog by placing more responsibility on utilities companies when they dig up and reinstate the road.
The idea was the provide a five-year guarantee for reinstatement works, a major cause of road failure, forcing companies to come back if the road showed defects.
The consultation on the plans revealed that the sector was split down the middle on the issue between utilities and local authorities - with utilities getting their way.
Exactly 50% of respondents felt the guarantee period should be left as it is, with 47% calling for it to be increased.
The Department for Transport said: 'There was roughly an even split between those who wanted to leave guarantee periods as they are (mainly utilities) and those who preferred to see them increased to 5 years (mainly authorities).
'The response from the utilities showed that there are some important issues that need to be investigated before changing the guaranteed periods can be considered because of the potential for unintended consequences. It has therefore been decided that the guaranteed periods should remain as they are until further work on the financial impact of implementing such a change can be carried out.'
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