UTILITY companies could be forced to pay for a permit to undertake roadworks – and the county council hopes the scheme will cut congestion.

As part of the work, it hopes it will be able to charge the companies a total of £1.2m a year to carry out roadworks and cut the ‘hassle factor’ for motorists.

The authority is currently told by companies that they will undertake roadworks as and when they want to carry them out.

But as part of a scheme supported by the government, they will be able to permit the companies to do the work.

The roll-out has taken some time, with former transport minister Chris Grayling writing to the county council’s ex-chief executive Peter Clark about it in July 2018.

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In it, Mr Grayling said a permit scheme is a ‘far more effective’ way of ‘proactively managing street and road works on the local road networks than operating under the older, more passive street works noticing system.’

He had asked for the permit scheme to be introduced at the end of March this year.

But the county council’s cabinet will finally be formally asked to approve its adoption today.

In a document by the council’s director for community operations, Owen Jenkins, he said the scheme could cut days of roadworks needed in Oxfordshire by 10 per cent.

It would also ‘improve the quality of works completed and the enforcement of failed works’, improve ‘coordination and management of works’ and reduce additional journey planning and the ‘inconvenience works put on the travelling public’.

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The council said it received 41 responses to a consultation.

Of those, 28 were either in support or had no objections to the scheme being rolled out.

Mr Jenkins said feedback from county councillors, town and parish councils and other local authorities nearby had been 'broadly supportive' of it going ahead.

The council has undertaken work in Cambridgeshire, West Sussex and Warwickshire.

Other work has been completed with external consultants 'to ensure best practice was proposed as part of the scheme for Oxfordshire'.

The county council's cabinet will be asked to approve the plan at a meeting this afternoon.

It will take place at County Hall in New Road from 2pm.