In the UK we focus a lot of time & energy on keeping traffic flowing around roadworks. Alas, it’s a tale we all know well; the morning commute run amok while you wait for your turn to weave past roadworks, those gloating traffic lights flashing a big red “WAIT” on your way to work…
All of this could be changing soon with the trials of Lane Rental Schemes. The scheme would charge Utility companies for street works repairs during ‘peak times’, meaning less congestion for Jo Public. However, Street Works UK (formerly NJUG) doesn’t quite see it the same way. NJUG Chief Executive Bob Gallienne said in September of this year: “Lane rental schemes make it harder for Utility companies to deliver vital infrastructure and value for money for consumers while minimising disruption. Rather, Street Works UK proposes a new initiative to tackle the issue and will be speaking with major Utility companies to discuss how to move forward. This consultation is a chance to explore how disruption can be reduced for road users at the same time as minimising the policy burden on Utility companies. NJUG is currently working with a range of stakeholders to develop a Future Strategy for Street Works, setting out a blue print for delivering world class street works.”
In a bid to reduce congestion caused by roadworks at peak times, Gloucester County Council considers new tariffs for Utility companies. The initiative is being considered to minimise the heavy traffic caused when roadworks are installed.
Gloucester Council looks to charge gas, water and electricity companies if they intent to carry out works at peak times and high-traffic areas. The new proposal would charge companies by the hour and could be implemented in 2019. There are 2.5 million roadworks now in action in the UK, costing the British economy £4 billion per annum because people cannot get to work on time or deliveries are delayed. Gloucester County Council’s reduced congestion plan comes after trials in London and Kent, where congestion caused by utility roadworks has fallen by over 50%. The scheme encourages utility companies to work together to coordinate their maintenance works and reduce disruption on carriageways. Utility companies in London are 6 times more likely to work together since the trials began.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Delays caused by roadworks can be the bane of drivers’ lives – especially when they take place at rush hour on busy routes. These proposals would give councils greater powers to ensure utility companies avoid carrying out works at the busiest times and on the most popular routes. This would not only improve journeys and cut congestion but also save businesses from the increased costs they incur as a result of traffic on our roads.”
Navigating roadworks can be disorientating and even hazardous for people with a disability and this matter can go overlooked by roadworks contractors and manufacturers. This is why on August 23rd Oxford Plastics, hosted the inaugural Disability in Roadworks: Awareness Day.
The awareness day brought together people with visual, hearing, and mobility impairments that used canes, guide dogs, hearing aids, manual and electric wheelchairs, and motorised scooters when travelling through roadworks. Members of the local council and people from the street works industry were also present to discuss accessibility in roadworks. Event organisers, Oxford Plastics, set up a roadworks demonstration area outside of University of East Anglia’s student union. There was a range of currently-used temporary street furniture and innovative, new products, which attendees were encouraged to travel through. Throughout the day people within the industry and people with disabilities discussed the layout and application of roadworks, and how to work together to make them accessible and practical for all parties.
Dr Katherine Deane of UEA spoke to people at the Awareness Day. Dr Deane is working closely with the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) to create best practice guidance and a training program for roadworks contractors. “The aim is to improve the design and set up of roadworks in order to ensure they are really accessible”, said Dr Deane. Paul Braddy, Sales Director at Oxford Plastics said “there can be a tendency for contractors and utility companies to prioritise the flow of traffic, and not the accessibility of pedestrians. Feedback from the day shows that more dialogue is necessary among the public who travel through roadworks and those who set them up. On the day the primary concern for Industry representatives was having space to undertake work, whereas the priority for charity representatives was to have knowledge of the scale and layout of a roadworks site.”
According to research undertaken on the day, a key finding was that more communication is needed. The public find that roadworks are not labelled clearly and that the length and layout of roadworks should be explained online and/or on-site. All groups saw the importance of educating workers on equipment, legislation and the needs of people with disabilities. “The Disability in Roadworks: Awareness Day shows that there is room for improvement in many areas”, said Charlotte Whiteley, Marketing Coordinator at Oxford Plastics. “This event has been pivotal for all of us at Oxford Plastics, and it will make a difference not just in the products we make, but in our understanding of accessibility.”
40 people the Norwich & Norfolk Councils, Deaf Connexions, Wymondham Access Group, Norwich Access Group, RNIB, NNAB, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Transport for London, Tarmac, Anglian Water, Kier, NJUG, CBRE, MJS Projects and the University of East Anglia were in attendance to address the subject of accessibility.
Anti-trip construction barrier that complies to the code of practice and equality act regulations.
National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) says UK Government must listen to the Utilities Industry if they are to implement an effective modern industrial strategy. In the Green Paper produced in Jan 2017, Building Our Industrial Strategy, the Government proposes 10 pillars that will drive industrial strategy across the economy which are:
In their official response to the paper, NJUG highlights the “critical” role that the Utilities Industry will play in executing several of these pillars, with a key focus on improving British infrastructure. NJUG, which is the only trade association representing utilities and their contractors on street works issues, calls for the Government to build a successful industrial strategy by taking a “strategic and coherent approach towards street works.”
NJUG raises the pertinent point that while street works are a key enabler of economic growth through infrastructure development, “they also have the potential to be an obstacle or blocker to work if our members’ ability to conduct street works is restricted…Local authorities have all the necessary powers to coordinate, plan and manage utility street works.” However, it is also the central government and local authorities who have “consistently introduced new policy measures and regulations which increase the cost and compliance burden on utilities companies and contractors…This could undermine progress in delivering towards the Industrial Strategy, particularly pillars 3 and 7.”
The Green Paper says the objective of their modern industrial strategy is to “improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth” across the UK. NJUG sign off their response by saying that they are “keen to work across government to achieve” an approach to street works which “would provide the best possible opportunity for delivering on the Industrial Strategy’s ambitions while also promoting best practice in street works and reducing disruption for other road users.”
Oxford Plastic Systems Ltd is dedicated to designing new products that assist in reducing disruption while keeping safety standards as an utmost priority. Oxford Plastics works with and designs solutions for key utility companies, helping to facilitate NJUG’s vision for a safe and effectual Utilities Industry.
Image Source – https://nerc.ukri.org
We’re attending the NODIG in Berlin at the end of March. 28th – 31st of March 2017. Find out more information at www.nodigberlin.com
Oxford Plastics take the high quality category on the 16th November at the 2016 NJUG Awards ceremony held in Parliament. The event was hosted by the Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee Louise Ellman MP, with Andrew Jones MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, delivering the keynote speech.
Award-winning UK manufacturer Oxford Plastics is constantly innovating new products to meet the needs of end users – and one such innovation is the Driveway Board, designed in conjunction with National Grid.
The British multi-national electricity and gas utility company required a driveway cover that would allow access for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes over an excavation 900mm wide, yet – unlike existing products on the market – could be lifted in place by just two people and would not require fixing to the ground. That’s the exacting brief which led to the development of Oxford Plastics’ unique Driveway Board.
The product was developed over two years and has now been launched to the wider market to deliver a host of benefits to the utilities and construction sectors. The Driveway Board is strong enough to withstand one wheel of a 3.5-tonne vehicle over a 900mm excavation (meeting new driveway board specifications) – and can alternatively be used for pedestrians over a 1200mm span. Using Oxford Plastics’ innovative Low Pro technology, the underside and edge of the Driveway Board is made from a soft flexible material to grip the surface underneath and reduce any unwanted movement. This means it’s very stable without the need for bolting in most applications and poses a greatly reduced trip hazard for pedestrians. It also has a moulded anti-slip surface for additional pedestrian safety. Weighing just 48kg, the Driveway Board is lightweight enough to install with a simple two-man lift.
Peter Creighton, Business Development Director for Oxford Plastics, says: “We are constantly innovating to meet the needs of our customers and end users. The Driveway Board’s flexible edge and non-slip surface reduce the risk of trips and slips, while the product is quick and easy to install – yet can allow access for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes. Ideal for ensuring safety at utility or construction works, the new Driveway Board demonstrates our commitment to solving issues for companies in a world of more stringent health and safety controls through innovation and design.”
Oxford Plastics has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary – starting out in 1985 as a trade moulding company focusing on recycled plastic, and growing into a £17 million business which now employs 80 staff and exports its innovative range of products to mainland Europe, Australia and the USA. Having enjoyed another successful year of business in 2015, the company is looking to the future by continuing to invest in research and development to create groundbreaking, high-quality products for street works, construction sites and outdoor events.