Private Members’ Bills on a Friday—some people think they are not worth a hoot, but we can achieve some great things.
On the issue of fines and penalties, a range of criminal penalties are already in place, covering, for example, safety and compliance with permits. Local authorities can also issue overrun charges of up to £10,000 per day for works that are not completed in time. I know that Essex County Council is using those powers. In the last year, 513 charges were issued for overrunning works, imposing charges of just under £500,000. We are not convinced of the need to raise those limits any further, but the powers do exist.
I understand that the situation in my right hon. Friend’s constituency mirrors the experience of many others, but I also understand that Essex County Council is using the powers available to it and that it is working with developers and utility companies to co-ordinate works and ensure that they are completed as soon as possible or that work is done during off-peak times or school holidays, to minimise the impact on local road users.
To conclude, I thank my right hon. Friend for the way he has gone about this debate, for his positive contribution —as positive as it can be in the circumstances— and for quite rightly being demanding on behalf of his constituents. I hope and expect that we will all see improvements in the way that works are planned and managed as a result of Street Manager, greater use of permit schemes and the other reforms we are taking forward, and perhaps his private Member’s Bill will add to that.
Question put and agreed to.