Utility firms causing roadwork chaos in Stoke-on-Trent to be named and shamed


Utility companies that cause traffic misery for Stoke-on-Trent motorists will be named and shamed under a new scheme.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is launching a new code of good practice for roadworks to encourage higher standards from the ‘promoters’ who regularly dig up local roads.

And there will also be an annual league table of promoters showing the best – and the worst – companies, as measured against the code.

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Under the ‘Smooth Operator’ scheme, points will be awarded for things like liaising closely with the council, co-ordinating with other companies to reduce disruption, and donating to local charities.

On the other hand, roadworks which often overrun, lead to potholes due to poor quality work or prompt complaints from the public will result in lower scores.

The scheme will apply to all organisations that commission roadworks in Stoke-on-Trent – including the city council itself, as well as utility firms – rather than the contractors that are hired to carry out the works.

Dan Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration and transport, believes the initiative will nudge promoters into less anti-social behaviour.

The city council is a permitting authority for roadworks, meaning it has some control over who digs up its roads, but Mr Jellyman says this power is limited.



Traffic jam
Traffic jam

He said: “Because we’re a permitting authority, if a company does bad job of reinstating a road after they’ve dug it up, we can get them to come back to put it right. But the problem is that the standards required from the promoters is determined by national legislation, which is very weak. So we’ve decided to set up our own scheme to name and shame the bad operators.

“The idea came from the food hygiene ratings that we give to takeaways and restaurants. Utility companies spend millions of pounds on PR each year, so I think they do care about their reputations. And as councillors we can complain to a company about a particular problem in our ward and nothing will get done, but as soon as a story about it appears in The Sentinel, they’ll act straightaway.

“The idea is that we’ll update the list of the best and worst performers on an annual basis. And the council will be included in the scheme as well, so we will be judging ourselves by the same standards as the other promoters.”

Under the scheme, promoters will be scored in 18 different categories, in six areas:

  • Statutory compliance: Co-ordination; quality of workmanship; inspections
  • Quality extras: Over banding; stepped reinstatement and choice of material; use of innovative ways of working to reduce network occupancy
  • Co-ordination works: Working with the street authority; working with other utility companies or stakeholders; working with local businesses
  • Customer feedback: Complaints or escalations to the city council; internal complaints procedure; understands the importance of feedback and encourages improvement
  • Confidence in management: Knowledge and training; communication; reliability
  • Social value: Environment; residents; area

Cabinet members at the city council will be asked to approve the code of good practice and Smooth Operator scheme when they meet next Tuesday.



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The report to cabinet states: “The law compels the city council to co-ordinate street works to facilitate the expeditious movement of traffic in the city to fulfil our network management duty.

“The regulatory framework and statutory codes of practice that promoters must comply with falls considerably short of the city council’s expectations and those of our residents. This drives dissatisfaction, complaints and curtails the potential life of the highway, creating avoidable short and long term resource drain.

“The proposed code and scheme aims to bridge that gap between lawful compliance and public expectations.

“Whilst not enforceable, expressing our expectations clearly will be valuable to promoters and the council, and will support any regulatory action taken should a promoter fail to accord with their statutory duties.”





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