Wa­ter gi­ants es­cape £10k a day fines for caus­ing roads chaos

The Mail on Sunday - - Tina Weaver - By Jake Hur­furt

UTIL­ITY com­pa­nies and Vir­gin Me­dia have es­caped with pal­try fines for caus­ing traf­fic chaos by al­low­ing works to over­run, new fig­ures re­veal.

Coun­cils have the power to im­pose fines of up to £10,000 a day but are of­ten charg­ing firms only a frac­tion of the max­i­mum penalty.

Now mo­tor­ing cam­paign­ers are de­mand­ing that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties clamp down on those firms that bring grid­lock and dis­tress to drivers by fail­ing to com­plete works on time.

The level of fines coun­cils can im­pose ranges from a max­i­mum of £10,000 a day on busy streets to £250 a day for qui­eter roads.

But some coun­cils are is­su­ing penal­ties that fall far short of the le­gal max­i­mum, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased un­der Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests.

Vir­gin Me­dia was fined just £1,925 by North Som­er­set Coun­cil’s for a 24- day over­run on lay­ing broad­band ca­bles in the town of Con­gres­bury. At £80 a day, it was less than a third of the max­i­mum charge. Wa­ter com- pany Sev­ern Trent was charged only £217 per work­ing day for over­run­ning works on a busy A- road in Le­ices­ter. Work on part of the A426 in 2017 was de­layed by 100 days.

And North York­shire Coun­cil re­vealed that York­shire Wa­ter was given a penalty far be­low the max­i­mum, re­ceiv­ing a fine of just £21,125 for a 224-day over­run on works in Am­ple­forth.

AA pres­i­dent Ed­mund King said: ‘How of­ten do we see that empty trench, with tem­po­rary lights, and not a worker in sight? How of­ten is that skip tak­ing up a lane of traf­fic?

‘We re­ally need to get smarter about avoid­ing con­ges­tion due to over­run­ning road­works.’

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