A MOVE to take greater control over when and where roadworks take place has been welcomed by leading members of a council.

Members of Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet have approved a move to decide which roads can be dug up for schemes ranging from telecoms to gas as part of a Government drive to cut disruption for motorists.

The introduction of roadworks permits will see firms effectively booking occupation of the street for specific periods and purposes rather than the current system of informing local authorities of an intention to occupy the street.

The findings of a Government study found permit systems for roadworks cut the average durations for most types of works and a reduced likelihood that permitted works would over-run.

It also found councils with permit schemes reported that they had increased control of the road network and that significant cost savings, from reduced disruption, could be achieved.

Firms which fail to comply with the conditions a roadworks permit could face fines of up to £5,000.

The council’s leisure and local environment boss Councillor Nick Wallis told members while roadworks caused much frustration across the borough, the permit system had the “potential to help”.

He said the current system, where agencies tell the council where and when they are going to dig up a road had “allowed for some coordination”.

Cllr Wallis said under the notice system the authority had worked hard to minimise the impact on motorists by focusing major roadworks during the holiday period and when possible, scheduling council work at night-time.

The council currently coordinates more than 7,000 notices a year.

Cllr Wallis said the permit system, charges and fixed penalty notices generated from which would be used to run the scheme, would enable the council to better coordinate roadworks. He said: “The council will be able to make sure people are not digging up the streets around about the same time. It will also keep them to a minimum and improve the quality of the roadworks.”

The authority’s children and young people’s boss, Councillor Cyndi Hughes told members further work to coordinate the timing of roadworks with school holidays would be a positive step.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, Councillor Anne-Marie Curry added: “It’s welcome that we will have more control over where and when the roadworks happen and ensure that we don’t have roadworks on every access out of Darlington.”