How these bollards left firm with a £48m fine
WHEN a highways firm failed to repair four damaged bollards quickly enough, they were slapped with a £250 fine and told to get a move on.
But because the work took a year and a half – and the fine doubled every hour in that time – they must now pay up almost £50million.
Birmingham City Council has issued the fine to infrastructure firm Amey, which signed a deal to maintain all its roads in 2010.
It received an initial £ 250 penalty after it failed to remove the two pairs of bollards within an hour of them first being damaged in June 2016.
The work was only completed in November 2017, by which time the fines for one set had reached £31million and the other £17.5million – totalling £48.5million.
Amey argued the bollards should not have been classified as an ‘emergency’ – demanding a category 1 response – but should have required a non-urgent ‘category 2’ response. In this case, the lengthy delay would have led to a penalty of just £2,500.
The bollards, which have a red stripe, are in a parking strip on a side street in Witton, and are designed to stop drivers avoiding speed bumps.
Amey argued loss of the bollards did not constitute an ‘urgent hazard’ so should have been classed as a non-urgent repair which must be completed within 28 days.
It is not the first time the council has levied huge fines on the firm. When its workers left cable ties around three lamp-posts following repairs, the council fined it for adding unnecessary ‘cosmetics’.
The firm again took a long time to remove the ties so ended up with a notice for £14million.
The contractor claims both sides want their £2.7billion deal to end, but said all of its attempts to reach a resolution had been rejected.
It recently offered to pay the authority £175million as part of a settlement in return for a writeoff of fees totalling around £70million. Amey said this was ‘absolutely fair’ but did not even get a response. Birmingham City Council said Amey had exaggerated the fines, but did not elaborate further due to confidentiality.
A spokesman added: ‘Where a contractor is found to be underperforming we will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to protect the public purse.
‘Dangerous issues that are not dealt with by Amey will therefore attract financial adjustments.’
Amey said of the dispute: ‘We are committed to reaching a resolution which is in the best interests of all sides, and importantly delivers for the people of Birmingham.’
Flashpoint: Pair of bollards