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Are we doing enough?

By Peter Loft and David Latham

Permit Schemes have been in use by a number of Utility and Authority practitioners since January 2010, and much has been achieved…but have all of the pre 2010 Objectives and aspirations been realised?

Could we all achieve more, and deliver greater satisfaction to our often joint customers, who are invariably residents, commuters, business owners, by working together more closely…using the combined resources that we currently have deployed to scrutinise, police and administer works ,and those Teams that raise invoices, dispute invoices, recover invoices on more productive tasks ?

Why is it that things work so well in some areas, and so badly in others…are we all…Utility and Authority…failing to deliver to “Joe Public” ?

A number of senior Government, Authority and Utility representatives have been asking themselves these questions lately, and advocating a more joined up approach from the Government itself, such that those Departments that have an influence on priorities, budgets, planning, strategic developments and transport, liaise and compliment those Departments, Regulators that are responsible for delivering them.

We are all working hard to make sure that this “Major co-ordination first”, happens.

Peter Loft:

Peter Loft is the Thames Water Streetworks Policy Manger and is the Co-Chair of HAUC England as well as a Chair or member of several other industry groups and committees.

His fellow HAUC England Co-Chair David Latham was given the right of reply:

In response I take the statement from the introduction to HAUC (Englands) Permit guidance now out for consultation and an image I have used before.

“The best outcomes from permits schemes can be achieved where work promoters and the permit authority work together to achieve the common objective of planning and implementing work effectively so that it has the least possible impact on highway users. Permits provide a powerful tool to help achieve this.”

The image portrays the dilemma of streetworks with the public perception of our networks as the black bit they drive on where as in reality the network comprises all the substance of modern life above and below that network surface, all of which requires maintenance repair and upgrade from time to time.

The challenge can at times feel like walking a tight rope over shark infested water! However when we all work towards the common objective of achieving what must be done in the least disruptive way and doing what we say we will do even the most difficult project can gain the public’s understanding and enhance the industries reputation. Clearly neither authority nor promoter can do this on their own.

Finally we need to learn from what works well as much as from what doesn’t work so well so progressively we improve. The new Permit scheme operational guidance is intended as a platform for understanding for all on how we should operate and to provide a foundation for when events mean we need to work outside the box.

David Latham:

David Latham is the Highways Policy and Inspections Manager at Kent County Council he is also the Co-Chair of HAUC England.

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