By Dave Capon, CEO, JAG(UK)
JAG(UK) is a sister organisation to GeoPlace, it represents all 209 Street and Road Authorities in Street and Road Works matters relating to the New Roads and Street Works Act: 1991 and the relevant parts of the Traffic Management Act 2004. JAG (UK) is the mechanism through which Street and Road Authorities are represented on the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee(UK). JAG(UK)'s member organisations are primarily local authorities and similar bodies whose principal activities are governed by highways, street, road and traffic management legislation. Dave Capon, JAG(UK) CEO outlines the latest JAG(UK) thinking.
These are strange and tough times testing the strength of us all. Family friends and work colleagues facing isolation and some uncertainty. However, our strength, resolve and collective will to move forward and make things better will see us through this, of that I have no doubt.
JAG(UK) is part of the GeoPlace family and has strong community links with highway authorities, and the Local Government Association. Similarly, we have solid links with UK Government departments and the national governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Responding to COVID-19
JAG(UK) is working closely with all agencies involved in managing the effects of the restrictions and supporting industry where it can. This is an industry wide support role working closely with Government, Utility and Highway colleagues to try and maintain services and preparing for changes as the crisis unfolds. The industry has solid framework legislation, but we need to be agile, consistent and transparent in our thinking and delivery.
We have a dedicated page on our website which brings together the various guidance notes from JAG(UK), HAUC(UK), DfT, Welsh and Scottish and Northern Ireland Governments around street and road works. We will keep this updated over time.
Here at JAG(UK) we are beginning to rethink our strategies in community connection and harnessing the technology to reach authorities and industry in a more consistent and transparent way. Regular meetings are taking place and information to the community has been well received. Meetings both individually, regionally and nationally are taking place using technology without the need to travel, increasing efficiency and connectivity.
Climate change is high on the agenda as is the need to move the industry from a linear economy to a circular one. The UK is structurally addicted to growth and the demand for resources is contributing to acidifying the oceans and damaging the Ozone. The world operates a linear economy which is running down the living planet, we take raw materials, make something, use it but lose the original resource as its not replaced.
We need to affect business as usual processes to make changes. The Covid crisis has highlighted how quickly we can change habits and we must not lose this opportunity.
JAG(UK) is working closely with industry at all levels to try and bring some strategic connectivity between all the agencies involved in this complex subject. Reducing emissions and congestion are key.
JAG(UK) has been at the forefront of supporting the community in terms of Permit scheme development. These schemes are an important tool in the management of the highway network aimed at maximising network capacity through focussed works planning and execution. Electrical vehicle charging and the increase in demand for district heating schemes will be a major part of JAG(UK)’s focus over the coming months and years. These are key Government initiatives which will be both complex and disruptive in terms of works but essential in terms of climate change objectives.
JAG(UK) plays an important role in bridging the gap between governments, the street and road works industry, local authorities and the citizen. It also provides strategic links to Utilities through the HAUC/RAUC communities.
Fibre to the premise
JAG(UK) has worked with the Department for Transport on supporting the Street Manager development and the DCMS in relation to the delivery of fibre. Working closely with all agencies on the production of two Fibre delivery guidance notes and supporting a multitude of single authorities to help smooth the path to delivery.
Fibre strategy targets of 2025 is an ambitious but achievable ask for the industry, and the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the vital nature of top-quality communications, as without robust internet the economy would grind to a halt. This work has highlighted the areas of the county where internet provision is lacking, and this shortfall needs to be rectified.
To accelerate market investment in the roll out of full fibre networks, JAG(UK) supported consultants working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, market providers and the Government’s DCMS Barrier Busting Task force to minimise obstacles to investment and reduce roll out costs.
Consumers, households and businesses all need fibre connectivity in order to thrive in this digital age. By the end of this year, the volume of global internet traffic is expected to be 95 times that of 2005. In the UK, fixed internet traffic is set to double every two years, whilst mobile data traffic increases at a rate of up to 242% per year. The UK’s digital infrastructure must be able to support this rapid increase in traffic, providing enough capacity to ensure data can flow at the volume, speed and reliability desired. With that in mind JAG(UK) has had an input into the fibre strategy developed for Greater Manchester Councils, a model which could be developed elsewhere in the whole of the UK.
JAG(UK) has supported the DfT with the development of the Street Manager project which in time will give us all a single view of the street and a single view of what’s happening on that street, the Cabinet Office in terms of their National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) project and is also leading the development of the HAUC App.
This is a progressive web App development project focussing on the Safety Code of Practice and additionally the Specification of Reinstatement of the Highway (SROH) (SROR in Scotland) and is designed for use by all operatives and supervisors working within the sector across the UK, giving instant information, alerts and best practice tips.
JAG(UK) also works alongside the LGA in terms of working to improve the efficiency of local authority services including improving information to the public and other stakeholders.
As part of HAUC(UK), JAG(UK) is working with the industry to improve the transparency and consistency by reviewing various codes of practice, promoting innovation and bringing the industry together with a yearly convention to showcase the work the industry is doing to move forward and meet the new challenges and the delivery needs of the nation. Innovation is a key component and many exciting new materials and working methods are coming forward which will make a real difference. Volumetric asphalts, flowable mastics and narrow trenching are making the difference and removing our reliance on traditional methods and in particular material supply.
The future is bright.