£40k fine for utility firms told not to carry out roadworks

09/05/2018
Dom Browne

Two utility firms have been fined a total of £40,000 by a council after pleading guilty to multiple roadwork offences, in some cases on jobs they were told not to do.

Somerset County Council successfully prosecuted Vodafone and BT, resulting in a £15,000 fine for Vodafone plus £1,201 in costs while BT was given range of fines totalling £25,000 with £2,696 in costs. Both firms were ordered to pay a £170 victim surchage as well.

Vodafone was hit with a £15,000 fine over works on the A358 at Hatch Beauchamp on 6 February 2018.

The council argued that by carrying out general maintenance works when directed not to, 'the firm caused severe traffic disruption leading to queues of more than four miles in both directions'.

BT was fined over a number of incidents relating to the replacement of telegraph poles. The firm carried out works when directed not to by Somerset County Council as they involved blocking roads, potentially delaying the travelling public and emergency services. Locations included:

  • Straight Drove, Chilton Trinity (Bridgwater) on 16 November 2017. Fine £6,000. BT also failed to comply with statutory safety measures.
  • Moor Road, Sutton Mallet (Bridgwater) on 13 November 2017. Fine £6,000. BT also failed to comply with the statutory safety measures.
  • Little Quantock Lane, Crowcombe on 4 December 2017. Fine £4,000 BT were also fined over works involving the replacement of distribution cabinets. These charges included:
  • Mansfield Road, Taunton on 17 January 2018 – BT carried out works when directed not to due to concerns about disruption and pedestrian safety. Fine £3,000.
  • Bacon Drive, Taunton on 17 January 2018 – works carried out without authorisation. Fine £3,000.
  • Gladstone Street, Taunton on 18 January 2018 – as above, fine £3,000

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for Highways, said: 'This is our third prosecution in recent months and is further proof of our pledge to get tough on unauthorised roadworks.

'These actions caused a great deal of unnecessary pain to road users and we have a duty to prevent this.'

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