Hefty fine handed to broadband company  

Virgin Media Ltd has been handed fines totalling more than £56k after being found guilty of five offences relating to roadworks which included failing to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Somerset County Council is responsible for managing the road network and prosecuted Virgin Media Ltd earlier this year as part of its commitment to minimising disruption and keeping the public safe.

The case, heard at Taunton Magistrates on Thursday 1 December, related to the following:

Weacombe Road, Bridgwater

On 10 March 2022, in contravention of S65 of NRSWA 1991 by failing to install traffic management to ensure the safety of pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities and the travelling public affected by the works. Virgin Media Ltd was fined £12,000 for this offence.

Halsway, Bridgwater

On 11 March 2022, in contravention of S65 of NRSWA 1991, by failing to install traffic management to ensure the safety of pedestrians affected by the works, particularly those with disabilities, and the travelling public affected by the works. The firm was fined £12,000 for this offence.

Gordon Terrace, Bridgwater

On 24 August 2022, in contravention of S65 of NRSWA 1991 by failing to secure that the part of the street which was broken up or opened or was obstructed by plant or materials used or deposited in connection with the works, was adequately guarded and lit having regard to the needs of people with a disability.

On 25 August 2022, Virgin Media Ltd failed to take the necessary steps to attend to the site failures at Gordon Terrace as directed by the street authority on 24th August 2022 and in so doing failed under S60 of the 1991 Act to use its best endeavours to cooperate with the street authority, particularly in the interests of safety.

Virgin Media Ltd was fined £20,000 for the first offence with no separate penalty for the second offence.

Redgate Street, Bridgwater

On 25 August 2022, in contravention of S65 of NRSWA 1991 by failing to install traffic management to ensure the safety of pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities and the travelling public affected by the works. Virgin Media Ltd was fined £12,000 for this offence.

The fines against Virgin Media Ltd totalled £56,000.00, with costs of £6,711.41 and a surcharge of £190.00 awarded against them. A combined total of £62,901.45.

In passing the sentence, the court accepted in mitigation that Virgin Media Ltd had thorough guidance for its sub-contractors to follow when conducting street works. The court also heard it had taken steps to increase its training of operatives and supervision of works, that the offences were isolated in the amount of work carried out across the country and that there had been no other offences of this kind in the last four years.

Lastly the court was told Virgin Media has taken steps to address the failings and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Cllr Mike Rigby, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital said: “These fines demonstrate that if you want to work on our highways, following safety and accessibility procedures and process is crucial in doing so. When ignored, these incidents can cause significant disruption on our roads.

“Some months ago, I asked our team to come down hard on operators who dig up our roads but do not then behave properly while they have the highway under traffic management. This substantial series of fines will send a clear message to statutory undertakers they cannot mess around on our highway network.”

If you spot a problem on the road, you can report it quickly and easily by visiting www.somerset.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/report-a-problem-on-the-road

For updates on traffic and travel follow @travelsomerset on Twitter and Facebook.