Q: I wonder if you would have an interest in road work repairs, in the sense of causing them to be done until they are finished. Why do I keep on having to see one man digging a trench with three others looking on?
A: I think all Londoners share your frustration about long-running road works, and also different companies digging up the same road several times over.
One of the problems is that many agencies have an absolute right to dig up the road. However, there are things that can be done to control them.
When I had the environment portfolio on Islington Council, I introduced much stricter notification rules so that residents and businesses had as much advance possible of the road works. We also put much improved and regularly-updated information on the Council website so that people knew what was happening.
Having visited many work sites, I’ve learned that sometimes there will be periods of relative inactivity (for example, new pipes have to settle before the road above them can be resurfaced) even though that looks bad to the rest of us! To make sure there are only essential delays, I support the introduction of lane rental; this is a scheme whereby the utility companies etc pay more money the longer their works take. That way there is a real incentive for them to work efficiently and finish promptly.
Liberal Democrats also favour tube works being done in big blocks rather than lots of small disruptions. It’s in everyone’s interest for these essential works to be completed as efficiently as possible.