A SCHEME designed to reduce congestion and improve traffic management on North Yorkshire’s roads comes into effect this week.

The permit scheme, which will be implemented from February 7, is being introduced by North Yorkshire County Council to improve the control and management of work across the county’s roads.

Previously, utilities companies such as electricity, water, gas and telecoms had only to notify the County Council of intended work.

The council could provide direction and apply penalties if a company breached the notice, but had limited control over when work was done.

Under the new scheme, all scheduled work must be granted a permit and the council has greater ability to ensure that work in the same area does not clash and that, where possible, jobs avoid peak times of day and busy times of year.

It can impose conditions, such as the rapid removal of equipment and signs after work is completed, and impose penalties for breaching conditions or working without a permit.

Companies will pay for a permit and discounts will give them an incentive to work outside peak times and to co-operate with other utilities that need to work in the same area.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for highways, said: “Our main objective with this scheme is to cut congestion and to reduce delays for the travelling public.”

He added that the permit scheme will increase the ability of the County Council to manage and co-ordinate utility company activities to the benefit of all road users.