Agenda item

Utilities Task Group Recommendations and South East Permit Scheme (SEPS): Update Report

Purpose of the report:  Policy Development and Review


The Select Committee is asked to review the further progress made on the recommendations of the Task Group, and to also review the performance of the South East Permit Scheme, to improve the co-ordination and quality of work of utilities companies in Surrey.



Declarations of interest: None




Jason Russell, Assistant Director for Highways

Kevin Orledge, Streetworks Team Manager


Key points raised during the discussion:


1.    The report was introduced by the Streetworks Team Manager who explained the progress that had been made on each of the recommendations from the Utilities Task Group and the performance of the South East Permit Scheme to date.


2.    With regards to Recommendation 1a, it was explained that there had been progress since the report was published and there was now a link to information on street works in Surrey which had been developed by Elgin. The Streetworks Team Manager commented that utilities companies were now lobbying Central Government directly due to costs of permit schemes. There was a possibility that Central Government may impose restrictions on conditions the County Council placed on utility companies through the permit scheme.


3.    It was stated that the permit scheme had proved very successful to date, with Bracknell Forest and Wokingham both close to joining the scheme.


4.    A Member queried how the Streetworks team were made aware of work being carried out without a permit. The Streetworks Team Manager explained that there were more Streetworks officers on the streets than ever before to ensure work was being carried out under a permit. There was also a roadworks app which allowed officers and residents to check which utilities works were ongoing in Surrey.


5.    Members raised concerns over the large number of permits granted as emergency activities. The Streetworks Team Manager explained that the figures were slightly misleading as a majority of the emergency activities were pothole repairs carried out by the County Council. 


6.    Concerns were raised around the amount of time it had taken to implement certain recommendations. Members wanted more clarity around where officers were with completing recommendations.


7.    It was stated that a list of current live permit applications were available through highways area managers. Although there was a low level of site inspections in comparison to the number of utilities work undertaken, street works officers focused on major works rather than minor works. Resource availability also had an impact on the number of inspections carried out.


8.    The Assistant Director for Highways stated that an intended result of the permit scheme was to create and encourage good behaviour for utilities companies to operate within. This would mean that inspections would not have to be carried out regularly and officer resource could be saved.


9.    Some Members felt that recommendation 4f should be reinstated. The Assistant Director for Highways explained that the recommendation had been suspended as there were concerns around potential liability.


10.  The effects of utilities work on Project Horizon were discussed. It was stated that a road under Project Horizon could be excavated under an emergency permit but highways would ask that the road be re- enhanced to the correct standard.


11.  It was suggested that conservation areas be included on street works maps held by the County Council. Officers agreed that this be included in an upcoming review of the Gazeteer.  


12.  It was confirmed that scoring records on how all utility companies are performing are kept by the Streetworks team - officers agreed to circulate these performance details to the Committee. Members were asked to channel any issues they had with roads to their highways area contacts.   




That the Utilities Task Group reconvenes to review the progress to date against outstanding recommendations, and consider how the Task Group can move forward with the recommendations and concerns raised by the Committee.


Actions/further information to be provided:


  1. For a further update report on progress towards implementation of the utilities task group’s recommendations to come back to Select Committee for review.  


  1. Officers to circulate performance details of utility companies in respect of the permit scheme. 


Committee Next Steps:None.


Supporting documents: