Hefty fines for roadworks offences

Two utility firms have received significant fines after pleading guilty to roadworks offences.

Somerset County Council is responsible for managing the road network and prosecuted Verizon UK Ltd and Western Power Distribution as part of its commitment to minimising disruption and keeping the public safe.

The cases, heard at Taunton Magistrates on Wednesday 22 January, were:

Taunton Road, Bridgwater

Verizon UK Ltd pleaded guilty to one offence under S56 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA) for failing to comply with a direction on timing issued by Somerset County Council.

This relates to unauthorised roadworks on 25 April 2019 which led to substantial disruption on Taunton Road – described by magistrates as unacceptable both to the people of Bridgwater and the local economy.

Verizon were fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £1,841 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170.

Longforward Lane, Kingstone, Ilminster

Western Power Distribution pleaded guilty to one offence under S65 of NRSWA 1991 for failing to comply with the safety requirements of the Code of Practice.

This related to works on 8 May 2019 which magistrates said posed a real risk to the safety of the public and site operatives.

WDP were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,730 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “If you want to work on our highways, you have to do it in the right way. These were both serious offences – one which caused considerable, unnecessary disruption on an exceptionally busy road, while the other directly put people’s safety at risk.

“I’m pleased to see significant fines handed out and hope this sends a strong message that we will take action when it is in the public interest to do so.”

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.