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Lord Sugar leads roadworks campaign

Wed, 09 Oct 2013

THE GOVERNMENT is to look at the better coordination of roadworks by utility companies after complaints by peers.

Labour's Lord Sugar led the call for action at question time in the Lords with support from Tory former chancellor Lord Lamont of Lerwick.

Lord Sugar, star of BBC television's The Apprentice show, urged "commonsense coordination" between the gas, electricity, water and telecoms companies.

"I've constantly experienced the road being dug up and then sealed off and then dug up again by a different utility company," he complained.

When roads were dug up the utility companies should all "get in there and do what they have to do" instead of repeating the work, Lord Sugar said.

For the Government, Lord Popat told him: "I agree with you. It is a nuisance."

Quite often roads were dug up causing huge traffic hold-ups, he said

"I'll certainly take this matter to the Department (for Transport) and see what more action we can take to minimise the traffic congestion on those roads."

Later, Lord Lamont urged ministers to tackle the "appalling level of roadworks in London" and the damaging effect on tourism.

He said the large amount of roadworks made it difficult for tourists to get around, increased pollution and was "extremely unsightly".

"Will ministers consult with the Mayor of London about doing something to ease this problem?" Lord Lamont added. "We were promised before the Olympics that once they were out of the way everything would be much better."

Government spokesman Lord Gardiner of Kimble said: "I will be delighted to speak to colleagues. We all suffer from the inconvenience of roadworks.

"Obviously they are intended to improve the passage of us all once they have been achieved. But I understand entirely the point you have made."

Peers also condemned the state of Britain's roads with Opposition spokesman Lord Davies of Oldham claiming the roads programme had "slipped drastically".

He said potholes were a danger to cyclists and other road users and demanded better maintenance.

Lord Popat insisted the Government was committed to the biggest investment programme for roads since 1970 and a lot of money was being spent to ensure they were well maintained.

A spokeswoman for Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The London lane rental scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, was introduced by the Mayor in June last year.

"As predicted it has proved extremely successful, with serious and severe disruption from roadworks cut by more than a third compared to the same period in the previous year.

"Disruption is down and 92% of roadworks are now done outside peak hours. The Mayor and Transport for London have consistently argued for this scheme to be extended more broadly across the capital."

By Trevor Mason, Press Association