Hefty fines handed to utility firms for works offences

Two utility firms were fined for not ensuring their work sites on Somerset roads were safe for the general public.

Somerset County Council is responsible for managing the road network and prosecuted Airband Community Internet Limited and Scottish and South Electricity Networks (SSEN) as part of its commitment to minimising disruption and keeping the public safe. Both have been handed fines after being found guilty of offences that took place last year.

The case, heard at North Somerset Magistrates on Tuesday 22 February, was:

Eastwick Road & Pyrland Avenue, Taunton

Airband pleaded guilty to three offences, these were:

  • Two offences of failing to implement any provision for pedestrians to safely negotiate the works especially those with mobility or visual impairments and also failing to adequately sign, light and guard a work site, contrary to Section 65 of The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, at Eastwick Road, Taunton on 5th October 2021 and Pyrland Avenue, Taunton on 13th December 2021 respectively
  • One offence of failing to obtain a permit to work, contrary to Regulation 19 of The Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007 at Pyrland Avenue on 13th December 2021.

Full credit was given for the early guilty plea and the company’s previous good character, however the works at Eastwick Road presented a danger to the site operatives who had taken no precautions to ensure their safety.

The works at Pyrland Avenue presented a greater danger to pedestrians and motorists and in not obtaining the permit to carry out works Airband had denied the street authority the opportunity to carry out its statutory functions.

This was reflected in the fines of £6,000 for S65 at Eastwick Road, £8,000 for S65 at Pyrland Avenue and £4,000 for the Regulation 19 offence.

The fines against Airband totalled £18,000.00 with costs of £4,000.00 and a surcharge of £190.00 awarded against them.

Bayford Hill, Stoke Trister

SSEN pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to adequately sign, light and guard a work site, contrary to Section 65 of The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, at Bayford Hill, Stoke Trister, on 24th June 2021.

The works were a danger to pedestrians, especially those who were mobility or visually impaired, full credit given for the early guilty plea, the previous good safety record of the company and measures put in place to prevent a reoccurrence a fine of £5,000 was awarded together with costs of £4,000 and a victim surcharge of £190.00. Total £9,190.00.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We have a history of ensuring work on our highways must co-operate with the Highways authority in order to avoid unnecessary disruption on our roads.

“We have been crystal clear that a blatant disregard of the applicable rules and regulations, which could have had serious repercussions on the health and safety of the public, will be punished.

“These fines demonstrate how seriously we take these offences, and we hope it 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