27/01/2017 - Permalink

Utilities companies warned to carry out highways works properly and safely – or face prosecution

Related topics: Highways, transport and environmental maintenance

Shropshire Council has warned utilities companies carrying out work on the county’s roads not to breach the terms of their highways permits, and to carry out work safely – or face possible legal action.

It follows a prosecution earlier this month (January 2017) in which BT was fined following work it carried out at Soulton Road in Wem in May last year.

Utilities companies can apply for a permit from Shropshire Council which allows them to carry out work on the public highway. Permits will specify what work can be carried out, when, and when it must be completed by.

To minimise disruption to local residents and road users the utilities company must abide by the terms of their permit and must work safely without putting residents at risk.

Last year Shropshire Council found BT and their contractors were working unsafely on Soulton Road, Wem. Officers found that pedestrians were having to walk in traffic as the footpath had been closed without an alternative walkway being provided. It was also found that the site was not set up, or work carried out, as had been agreed with the council and this was causing problems to commuters due to the build-up of traffic.

Shropshire Council took BT to court and they were subsequently fined £10,000 – plus costs and a victim surcharge – for their failure to provide a pedestrian footway and failure to introduce a proper traffic lighting system.

Simon Jones, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport, said:

“The BT  incident in Wem was one of a number of recent examples where the terms of a highways permit have been breached, or work carried out unsafely, causing problems for our residents. This also leads to unfair criticism of the council as people mistakenly believe that we are responsible for the resulting inconvenience and congestion.

“We’ll ensure that we do all that is necessary to stop future breaches – and we will take further action through the courts if necessary.”

To apply for a permit or for more information, call 0345 678 9007 or email streetworks@shropshire.gov.uk.