Utility firm fined over roadworks offences

A utility firm has been fined more than £3,000 after pleading guilty to three serious roadworks offences.

Somerset County Council is responsible for managing the road network and prosecuted Wessex Water as part of its commitment to minimising disruption to the travelling public and keeping them safe.

All three charges relate to the New Roads and Street Works (NRSWA) Act:

The first two involved works at Picts Hill, High Ham, and Somerton Hill, Pitney, on 6 October 2017. By occupying the highway when directed not to, Wessex Water caused there to be three sets of traffic lights within two miles on a busy road.

The third charge related to works on Wiveliscombe Road in Norton Fitzwarren on 5 October 2017 when Wessex Water failed to use the correct traffic management including signs and safety zones. These actions posed a serious safety risk to pedestrians, especially those with visual or mobility impairments.

Wessex Water were sentenced at Taunton Magistrates on Tuesday 20 March after pleading guilty to all three charges. They were fined £3,320 and ordered to pay £1,687 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge*.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The decision to prosecute is not taken lightly but these were three incidents where undue inconvenience or danger was posed to the public.

“That is not acceptable and we owe it to our residents to take action.

“This prosecution sends a very clear message to anyone who works on the highway that transgressions will not be tolerated and we continue to work with partners to encourage best practice.”

Details of approved roadworks can be found on our searchable map at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/roadworks. If anyone is concerned about roadworks they can flag this up to the team by contacting @TravelSomerset on Twitter.

*Breakdown of fines and costs:

NRSWA Section 56 offences: £660 (x2)

NRSWA S65 offence: £2,000

Total fines: £3,320

Costs: £1,687

Victim surcharge: £170