RICHMOND Council is being urged to follow the lead of neighbouring boroughs and sign up to a scheme which would tighten controls over roadworks carried out by utility companies.
Under Transport for London's roadworks permit scheme, introduced last month, companies which want to dig up roads have to apply for a permit before they can begin.
Local authorities have to opt into the scheme, but so far Richmond, and next door Kingston, have failed to do so, despite residents growing increasingly frustrated by roadworks in both town centres.
Richmond's opposition business spokesman, Pamela Fleming, said this week: "People have got so fed up with the never-ending stream of roadworks all over the place that they are avoiding the borough.
"This is making life even harder for our shops, who are already battling against the recession.
"The good news is that the London boroughs at last have some powers to regulate the activities of utilities under a new permit scheme."
She added: "Why was Richmond not among the first to sign on the dotted line, given the siege we've been under from utility work for the last couple of years?
"There will be more disruption and traffic gridlock in Richmond when Thames Water replaces the water main at the busy Queens Road, Manor Road and Sheen Road junction from Monday."
The scheme means companies will be able to coordinate works to be carried out at the same time and reduce disruption to road users.
Councils can also place conditions on where and when works can be carried out and when they must be completed.
Across London, 18 councils have already signed up to the scheme, which was given the green light by the Department for Transport on October 15, including neighbouring Hounslow and Wandsworth.
Conservative Hampton North
councillor, Geoffrey Samuel, said roads in his ward were 'honeycombed with holes'.
He added: "Journeys to the station are disrupted, several roads are honeycombed with holes and trenches with minimal regard for safety, and Broad Lane is being dug up again - the second time in two years since it was resurfaced.
"Why does this council allow the utilities to get away with it?"
Cabinet member for traffic, transport and parking, David Trigg, said the scheme was not a solution to the build-up of roadworks locally.
He said: "The lane licensing scheme is very new to London and is just one way of managing the works of the utilities. Unfortunately, this will not
make them go away - they still need to replace their Victorian mains.
"Lane licensing is not a panacea. It has been in place on motorways for quite some time.
"It is churlish to say that we are hanging back and this is having a negative impact on businesses - we want to ensure that when we implement it we get it right first time."