MORE than half of the major utilities companies operating in the Capital have refused to sign up to a “responsible roadworks” pledge spearheaded by the city council.
Representatives from CityFibre, SGN and Scottish Water yesterday joined the council in signing the agreement, which aims to minimise disruption while works are carried out. However, a further four companies – Virgin Media, Scottish Power, Telefonica and Openreach – failed to put their names to the commitment.
There are now calls for the council to do more to “name and shame” utility companies which do not carry out works to a high enough standard.
It comes after the latest figures showed a total of 941 outstanding roadworks in the first quarter – July to September – of 2016-17, down from 1024 in the previous quarter.
Lesley Hinds, the city council’s transport and environment leader, said the Edinburgh Road Works Ahead Agreement (ERWAA) was a “strong public commitment” to high standard roadworks with minimal disruption.
She said: “Although the ERWAA was developed in consultation with all utility companies operating in Edinburgh, I’m disappointed that only three were prepared to actually sign up to it.
“We hope the remaining utility companies reconsider their position and sign up without delay so that residents and visitors can trust that all organisations carrying out roadworks in the Capital are fully committed to the highest possible standards.”
The pledge involves a number of commitments to ensure roadworks run smoothly, including the use of temporary pedestrian crossings and improved communication with local communities.
Nick Cook, the Tories’ transport spokesman on the council, welcomed the pledge, but added: “It has taken far too long to reach this point. The fact that only three utility companies have bothered to sign the agreement means it is far from comprehensive.
“The council must do more to ‘name and shame’ utility companies carrying out sub-standard road repairs. At the same time, the council itself must pull its socks up and sort out those poor-quality road repairs for which it is responsible.”
Virgin Media, which did not sign the pledge, said it was keen to “minimise” disruption while it expanded its network, adding it hoped to sign up “in the coming weeks”.
BT subsidiary Openreach said: “We’ve recently changed our main contractor in Scotland and we’re not in a position to sign up to EWRAA during the transition period. We’ve advised the council we plan to review this in six months’ time.”
A spokesman for Scottish Power energy networks said: “We have met with Cllr Hinds previously to discuss the Edinburgh Road Works Agreement. SP Energy Networks explained that we will continue to deliver our existing commitments and targets in accordance with the requirements of national legislation.
“Therefore, we do not believe it is practical for us to enter into separate regional agreements.”