If a new road or pavement surface is laid and then utilities companies dig it up and patch their hole or trench with a different material, the council has no powers to make the company redo it.

Councillors were concerned to hear that the appearance of repairs following roadworks by private utilities could not be enforced by the local authority.

Swindon Borough Council’s communities and place overview committee was discussing the work Euclid Street’s highways department did on the roads.

Coun Garry Perkins asked whether officers had powers to “control utilities work” and Coun Matthew Courtliff said: “When they put in the new health centre they did all the pavement, then a few months later a utility came along and dug it up and just patched it afterwards. Can we say utilities have to repair it properly?”

Highways officer Tim Price said: “We have the ability to put notices on new sections of highway which prohibits work on it for 12 months other than in cases of emergency - but otherwise the regulations are that the repair work must be of suitable materials and should be done to the right standard.”

Coun Kevin Parry added: “But what if they just patch it in a different material - you wouldn’t accept that in your garden or on your carpet.”

Mr Price said: “We don’t have any powers to enforce the aesthetic appearance of repairs, just on the quality. If they repair a trench to the appropriate standard we have to live with how it looks.”