Agenda item


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.





Kevin Orledge, Streetworks Team Manager


Key points raised during the discussion:


1.    Members drew attention to paragraph 20, recommendation 4f, of page 22, which proposes exploring the idea of the potential for the collation of a limited central store of specialist surfacing materials by Surrey County Council. Members expressed the opinion that this was financially and logistically impractical. Officers agreed that this recommendation was impractical and informed the Committee that a condition stating that utilities were responsible for sourcing and replacing materials to a high standard was a viable approach.


2.    Members raised the concern, with regards to paragraph 20, that utilities have not displayed enough impetus to replace the right materials and that there needs to be additional pressure applied. An increase in inspections was recognised by the Committee, but officers were asked for the figures surrounding this. Officers assured the Committee that applying a condition to a permit is enforceable, as the non-compliance of a condition on a permit is an offence. Officers informed the Committee that utility inspection figures would be presented to the Committee at a later date.


3.    The Chairman of the Committee asked officers if it would be practical to inform Members when a notice is issued to a utility. Officers were also questioned over what the fixed penalties were. Officers informed the Committee that the fixed penalty was £80 and if this is not paid £120 then if not paid this is a criminal offence. The Chairman, along with other Members, felt this fixed penalty is low and expressed the need to apply pressure through media platforms. In addition, officers, along with some Members, informed the Committee that a bulletin on Highways and Utilities works was circulated around Surrey’s local authorities; he accepted there was scope for enhancing this. This was welcomed by the Chairman who added that the bulletin should specify if these works are in conservation areas.


4.    The Vice Chairman of the Committee asked officers if it would be possible to add a requirement for utilities to provide before and after photos when either digging up or reinstating. Officers stated that measures of this nature are not enforceable.


5.    Officers informed the Committee that a maximum of 10% of utilities works could be inspected, but highlighted a need to update the specification for areas of work that were deemed non-standard. Members agreed there was a need to designate important areas. The Chairman of the Select Committee questioned officers over what percentage of the 10% is carried out within conservation areas. Officers informed the Committee that, as part of statute set out within the code of practice, inspections were random. Officers added that any extra inspections could be designated to conservation areas.


6.    Members questioned officers over whether a red, amber, green status on utilities reinstatements might be a useful way of pressuring companies. It was also suggested that a Memorandum of Agreement that companies have to sign up to might also help.


7.    Officers informed the Committee that utility performance figures could be put in the public domain. They also reminded the Committee that most dealings with utilities are bound by legislation. The Cabinet Member expressed the opinion that the Local Government Association should tackle any legislative issues.




The Environment and Transport Select Committee;

a)    Supported the removal of original recommendation 2 a.) ii), given the increased number of inspections now being undertaken.


b)    Supported the ongoing development of the SEPS.



Actions/Further information to be provided:

  • That the Streetworks team manager include the select committee on the distribution list for the Streetworks bulletin once this has been finalised.


·         For the Streetworks team manager to send the committee performance figures of the main utility companies carrying out work in Surrey.

Committee Next steps:



Supporting documents: