UTILITY companies digging up Oxford’s roads could be fined £10,000 per day if they overrun, according to a strict new permit scheme.

The restriction is part of a new county council initiative to protect drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and businesses from over-running and clashing roadworks.

The new system, officially launched this month, means anyone wanting to carry out roadworks now has to apply to the county council for a permit.

Oxford Mail:

Highways managers believe that the new scheme could result in almost 9,000 fewer days-worth of roadworks every year in Oxfordshire, better quality of completed work, better coordination and management – all adding up to less hassle for the travelling public.

READ AGAIN: Police officer stopped 'madman' from hijacking ambulance

Permits have to be paid for and carry strict conditions and penalties for any work that takes too long or is not of satisfactory quality when completed.

Oxford Mail:

County councillor Liam Walker, cabinet member for highway delivery, said: “Roadworks are one of the most complained about subjects and now we have the powers to do something to help.

READ MORE: Disruptive Botley Road gas works

"What we want to see are works that are done as quickly as possible, to the highest standard and with the least amount of inconvenience. The new permits mean that companies will have to agree to conditions and we are now able to enforce them.

“People also want to see more companies working together so that the same area isn’t dug up repeatedly – we want to see this too and, through permitting, we want to see more cooperation.”

Oxford Mail:

Work for gas, water and electricity companies will be covered by the permit scheme and resurfacing work.

Council officers will be able to decide in some cases when work can take place and insist that if two companies want to work in the same or nearby location that there is cooperation.

READ AGAIN: Cruel puppy and kitten farms will be banned in April

While the permit scheme can’t guarantee every set of roadworks runs perfectly, the feedback from a ‘soft-launch’ of the scheme from mid-January has already seen 2,000 permit applications, challenges from the council to the duration of over 30 applications, leading to a reduction in time, and requests from the council for collaborative working on over 20 applications.

The permit scheme is designed to be self-financing with charges set so that running costs are covered.

Oxford Mail:

The cost of permits depends on the location and duration of works and can vary between £32 and £240.

READ MORE: Arsonist on the run from prison

When it comes to penalties, starting work without a permit can lead to prosecution or fixed penalty notice of £500.

A breach of permit conditions can lead to potential prosecution or a fixed penalty notice charge of £120.

Work overrunning without a valid extension can lead to potential prosecution or a fixed penalty notice charge, ranging from £250 to £10,000 per day, depending on the road category.