Traffic Management Act
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Agenda Item No. CABINET DATE 7th March 2005 7 REPORT OF Executive Director - Environmental Services SUBJECT Traffic Management Act STATUS Open FORWARD PLAN REF NO. Not Included on the Forward Plan – Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board to be informed under the General Exception rules of the Constitution. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Traffic Management Act is intended to give local transport authorities new powers and a duty to keep roads clear and traffic moving freely. It requires the appointment of a statutory Traffic Manager to ensure co-ordination of activities across the authority that may have an impact on traffic, and thus manage all highway works to keep roads clear and traffic moving. RECOMMENDATIONS 1 To change the title of the current Network Manager within Environmental Services to “Traffic Manager” and to amend the job description so it reflects the statutory nature of the post 2. The structure of Environmental Services be amended to reflect the requirements of the act and accommodate the necessary resources to inspect and enforce street works (to be self-financed through fees and charges) Recommendation to Council: 3. That the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Environmental Services be given delegated authority to approve the formalisation of existing practices to provide the basis of any necessary policies and the Constitution be amended REASONS FOR DECISION The Traffic Management Act 2004 came into effect on 5 th January 2005, from which date local traffic authorities have a duty to manage their local road network. The Act requires the appointment of a Traffic Manager 1. BACKGROUND AND ISSUES 1.1 The Traffic Management Act 1.1.1 The Traffic Management Act is intended to give local transport authorities (LTA’s) new powers and a duty to keep roads clear and traffic moving. The second commencement order for the Act was recently published together with guidance on its implementation. Salient points from the Act and accompanying guidance is set out in the appendix to this report. 1.1.2 Part 2 of the Act came into force on 5th January 2005, from which date LTA’s have a duty to manage their local road network. The guidance indicates that local authorities should not delay in taking actions to fulfil their responsibilities to manage the network to meet the expectations of the business communities and general public. 1.2 Network Management Duty 1.2.1 As part of the arrangements for delivering the network management duty, the Act requires that all traffic authorities appoint a "traffic manager". The authority will need to exercise all of those functions that have an impact on traffic flows in a more co-ordinated way but the precise duties and responsibilities of the traffic manager will be for the authority to decide. 1.2.2 It is inevitable, given the strategies needed to manage the highway network and anticipate future trends that the development and implementation of the LTP will be key in satisfying the requirements of the Act in the longer term. 1.2.3 If it can be demonstrated that an authority is failing with regard to its network management duties, then the Act provides for the Secretary of State to appoint a traffic director for that authority. Different levels of intervention will be possible; at one level there could be a relatively hands- off monitoring of what the authority was doing. At a more serious level a more hands-on approach would be appropriate, and the traffic director could take over responsibility for some of the authority's functions, as specified by the national authority. 1.3 Corporate Implications 1.3.1 Clearly the performance of a network can be affected by factors outside the control of the traffic authority. Some may be influenced by an authority’s wider policies and responsibilities, or the provision of attractive alternatives to encourage modal shift. There is also the need to establish how well placed an authority is to respond to future demands. For these reasons monitoring and evaluation needs to cover the organisational structures and decision-making processes put in place to meet the duty, as well as the outcomes. 1.3.2 By virtue of the Act an authority will need to ensure that all its departments are aware of the need to consider the implications of their actions against the authority’s strategy for meeting the duty. As a coastal resort, for example, the transportation of visitors to the resort, and the organisation of events such as the Carnival, have an impact on traffic flows that need to be managed through co-operation across the authority and with external partners such as the police. 1.4 The Traffic Manager 1.4.1 Section 17 of the Act requires that a Traffic Manager be appointed to perform the tasks that an authority considers necessary for meeting the duty. This is a statutory post and all LTAs must have such an appointed person, to be known as the Traffic Manager. The post holder may carry other responsibilities for the authority. 1.4.2 It is for the authority to decide the level of seniority of the Traffic Manager post, whether it is a stand alone post or is combined with other duties, whether it could be filled by an existing employee and what resources the Traffic Manager will require. In deciding this, the authority has to take into account how far the role will require the Traffic Manager to consider and influence all the functions of the authority and decisions made by it that could have an impact on traffic movement. That, in turn, will affect the status and responsibilities the Traffic Manager will be given. 1.4.3 In practice it is likely that the Traffic Manager will provide a focal point within the local authority, championing the need to consider the duty in all areas of work. As every traffic authority is required to have a Traffic Manager that person should be well positioned to work closely with their peers in other authorities and foster co-operation with the Highways Agency and with other partners and stakeholders such as the Police, utilities, bus operators etc. 1.4.4 The Traffic Management Bill was proceeding through parliament during the restructuring exercise conducted last year. In anticipation of the Act, a Network Manager post was created heading a division that brings together traffic management, public utility co-ordination and inspection, development control (advice on traffic impact), co-ordination and planning of highway asset management/maintenance, car park management etc. Importantly, the duties of the Network Manager were separated from operational highway maintenance to demonstrate that the authority will enforce the requirements of the act equally to its own operations as it does to the activities of others. 1.4.5 It is clear from the guidance that the statutory “Traffic Manager” needs to be at a senior and influential level within the authority. The current Network Manager post is at third tier level and its job description was developed with the requirements of the Act in mind it. It seems logical, therefore, to re- designate the post “Traffic Manager” and to review the job description to ensure it adequately covers the roles defined by the Act and reflects its statutory nature. 1.4.6 With regard to the resources necessary to meet the requirements of the Act, the Network Management division was established with the new legislation in mind. The basic structure for managing and administering the Act is therefore considered to be in place. 1.4.7 The additional duties set out in the Act (e.g. inspecting and managing road works by utilities and highway authorities), have not yet been fully assessed, as workload will depend on street works activity. Charges are defined within the Act to meet the cost of inspection and administration. Thus additional inspectors can be employed, should workload increase, at no net cost to the authority. Charges can also be levied for skips and scaffolding permits. 1.4.8 It is proposed that a report be submitted for consideration by Cabinet recommending a policy that establishes a framework for charging for all street works activities not regulated by other legislation. 1.4.9 A review is therefore proposed of the current inspection regime to ensure adequate resources are available to effectively monitor and enforce the requirements of the Act. As identified above, charges available to the authority should, mean this can be achieved at no additional cost to the authority. 1.5 Formalisation of Existing Processes 1.5.1 It is clearly intended from the guidance that a key requirement of the actions of the traffic manager will be to maintain a robust and auditable record of the decisions that are taken. 1.5.2 A sound basis for these records are clearly documented processes for implementing specific policy requirements. Whilst many of these policies exist, most are not formally documented and few have been formally adopted by the authority. 1.5.3 It is therefore proposed that, as a starting point, all existing policies and practises are formally documented and presented to the portfolio holder for their consideration. 1.6 Consultation 1.6.1 It is proposed that engagement with neighbouring traffic authorities be established to ensure compatibility of mechanisms established to implement the Act and to provide a formal basis for continued dialogue regarding cross boundary traffic issues. 2. OTHER OPTIONS CONSIDERED 2.1 None. The appointment by an authority of a traffic manager to fulfil its duties under the Traffic Management Act is a statutory requirement. 3. CONSULTATION WITH SCRUTINY 3.1 No consultation with Scrutiny has been carried out prior to the drafting of this report. 4. FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS 4.1 The report states that the financial impact of the new legislation will be either funded by increased income or will be accommodated within existing budgets. As such there are no additional financial pressures and no comments to make. 5. LEGAL IMPLICATIONS 5.1 This new piece of legislation clearly places the local authority under a duty to appoint a traffic manager. The specific delegation in the Council’s constitution to the Cabinet member with responsibility for the Environment matters includes modifications to existing policies affecting the Environmental Services Directorate (excluding those policies forming part of the Council’s Policy Framework). However the delegation does not include approving new policies which are formalising existing work practice. The recommendation to Full Council gives the Cabinet Member the necessary delegation to do this. Where Cabinet Members exercise delegation there are specific legal requirements (involving the holding of properly called and minuted meetings) to ensure that the decisions made are open and transparent. 6. HUMAN RESOURCES IMPLICATIONS 6.1 That the staffing matters referred to in the report be addressed through delegated powers in accordance with normal practice. 7. WARD IMPLICATIONS 7.1 The Traffic Management Act and the appointment of a traffic manager have implications for all Wards 8. BACKGROUND PAPERS 8.1 Traffic Management Act 2004 and its associated guidance and commencement orders 9. CONTACT OFFICER Adrian Coy Head of Technical Services - Tel. 32(4305) RAY OXBY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Appendix The Traffic Management Act 1 Making the best use of our current road network is important for both economic vitality and society in general. Roads facilitate the transport of people and goods, provide access to homes, businesses and other destinations, and provide public space where people shop, socialise or relax. Under the surface lies the infrastructure for communications and services that underpin a modern society. 2 The provision of additional road space is often impractical and undesirable. The local road network is a finite resource with competing pressures from those that use it. Reliable journey times are important to the majority of users. This needs to be balanced with the needs of the highway authority and the utilities to occupy the road in order to maintain and upgrade equipment for the benefit of customers. The ability to undertake activities in safety remains a priority. 3 As a highway authority, the council already has a range of powers and duties under which to maintain and improve the network, and manage its use. These include the Highways Act 1980 principally covering the structure of the network; the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 covering utility street works; and the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 regulating the activities of road users. The Traffic Management Act adds to these powers. 4 Part 2 of the Act defines the network management duty, which requires local traffic authorities to do all that is reasonably practicable to manage the network effectively to keep traffic moving. Section 31 of the Act specifically states that the term “traffic” includes pedestrians, so the duty requires that the movement of all road users be considered. 5 The Act seeks to tighten the existing regulatory framework within which utility companies - gas, electricity, water and telecoms - are permitted to dig up local roads, giving authorities more powers to co-ordinate works effectively with the aim of minimising disruption. It also provides for additional duties on highway authorities so that all works on the road are better managed and co-ordinated. 6 The authority has to consider the needs of all road users, including utilities, when carrying out its network management duty. The authority has to manage the road space for everyone, and make decisions about trade-offs between competing demands according to its policies and the particular circumstances of the part of the network being considered. 7 The duty to identify current and future causes of congestion and disruption, and to plan and take action accordingly, will mean that authorities will need to have access to the information needed to do this. The needs of utilities (and the authorities themselves) to work on roads, and the wide range of road users, can all affect network capacity. It is important that authorities promote pro-active co-ordination of the network, adopt a planned, evidence- led approach to known events, and develop contingencies for the unforeseen. 8 This will mean putting arrangements in place to gather accurate information about planned works or events, consider how to organise them to minimise their impact, and agree (or stipulate) their timing to best effect. 9 Network management is only one element of an authority's transport activities and should complement its other policies and actions. It should therefore look to embed the desired outcomes and appropriate policies and strategies, including those for measuring service delivery performance, within the LTP in order to achieve a coherent approach. 10 Part 3 of the Act provides for the creation of permit schemes under which utilities, highway authorities (and others) wishing to dig up particular roads would have to apply for permission to carry out works. Those operating permit schemes (eg highway authorities) may attach conditions to the grant of a permit (such as the dates during which works can take place) with a view to reducing the disruption and inconvenience which works cause. Local authorities have to treat their own works on an equal footing to those carried out by others in deciding whether to issue a permit and what conditions to attach. The details of how permit schemes operate is be set out in regulations. 11 Part 4 of the Act includes a range of other new measures to control utility works. At present, authorities can direct utilities not to carry out works at particular times of day. The Act provides authorities with further powers to direct utilities not to carry out their planned works on particular days, and where appropriate, to tell them that their works should avoid certain routes where it is reasonable to do so. 12 Currently, authorities can place a 12 month embargo on any more works taking place (with certain exceptions, such as emergencies) on a road on which major road works have just been carried out. The Act will allow authorities to apply similar embargoes after major utility works, and will allow the maximum length of the embargo to be changed through regulations (eg increasing it to 3 years). 13 The Act will allow a more effective regime to be developed for inspecting the works carried out by utilities. The aim would be to target poor performance so as to improve the quality of works and reduce the amount of remedial works and repairs and the unnecessary disruption that they cause. 14 The existing enforcement regime is only of limited effectiveness. The Act raises the levels of fines payable by utility companies who commit offences related to their street works (such as failing to reinstate the road to the prescribed standard, or failing to heed an authority's directions not to carry out works during particular hours). At the moment the maximum fines are £1,000 - the Act will raise these levels, in some cases to £2,500, and in others to £5,000. The Act also allows for authorities to issue offenders with Fixed Penalty Notices. 15 The Act provides for additional responsibilities for highway authorities. It will allow statutory guidance to be issued to authorities for safe working in the road and will make it possible for authorities to be required to keep records of their apparatus in the road. In both cases bringing highway authorities into line with the existing requirements on utilities. 16 The Act also allows "lane rental" and overstaying charging powers (under which, subject to regulations, utilities can be required to pay a daily charge every time they dig up the road, or if they take too long) to be extended to the owners of skips, scaffolding and other items (such as building materials) that are left in the road. 17 Historic trends suggest that pressure on road networks, and in many cases, traffic congestion, is likely to grow each year as the country becomes more prosperous and more people can afford to own cars. Local traffic authorities will need to consider the best ways to deal with any prospective rise in demand. 18 Government and local authorities have been looking at ways of reducing the demand so as to moderate or stem traffic growth even when the economy is growing. This has resulted in changes to land use plans, the establishment of school and workplace travel plans, and the promotion of tele-working amongst other things. Thus the work of the planning authority, the local education authority and economic development should all have cognisance of the traffic management duty and the role of the Traffic Manager to enable the expeditious flow of traffic both today and, through proactive planning, in the future.