MORE than half the reinstatement work on the countrys roads could be defective and could have to be dug up again, according to new local authority test results.
Core samples taken from thousands of utility reinstatement jobs in the Midlands, Scotland, Devon, Cheshire, Kent and central London showed failure rates of between 50 and 75 per cent.
But contractors, which face paying for further remedial work and further inspection charges, claim some inspectors are being over-zealous.
The alarming findings are to be sent to the Department of Transport, which is conducting a review of the New Roads and Street Works Act (NRSWA) and its inspection regime.
A DoT spokesman said: On final inspection we have found a very high number of failures.
Peter Whitehouse, deputy chief engineer at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, said: What concerns us is that we have taken samples from 200 cores of work which appear to be visually satisfactory but which have in fact produced a 75 per cent failure rate.
He added: I would like to know if the undertakers (of the work) are putting enough resources into ensuring their contractors are doing what theyre being paid for.
The utilities responsible for the defective work are being informed of the results this week.
John Adams, a member of the Highways and Utilities Committee, said: From our early results we havent got what we expected.
Those areas where cores have already been taken are showing failures of upwards of 50 per cent. But its still early days.
The results of the final inspections add further tension to the already strained relationship between many contractors and local authorities.
Local authorities charge contractors up to 75 for each inspection if reinstatement work fails to meet agreed standards. But some contractors claim that councils are using the inspections as money-spinners.
Irene Elsom, national co-ordinator of the National Joint Utilities Group, said: Some unscrupulous councils may be pushing up their incomes by being over-zealous in their inspections.