British Telecommunications (BT) has been fined for carrying out work on Somerset’s highway network without adequate traffic management or a valid street works permit.
The works were carried out last March on Ilminster Road in Ruishton.
The utility firm was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,158, plus a £2,000 victim surcharge by Taunton Magistrates after it pleaded guilty to offences under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England). The total penalty was £17,154.
Councillor Mike Rigby, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Highways and Digital said:
The Council has a statutory duty to co-ordinate street works in and around the county in order to protect the public from unsafe street works, to minimise inconvenience to road users, and to protect the structure and integrity of the street.
If we’re going to carry out this duty we need utilities onside, ensuring their contractors uphold safety standards and communicate properly with us.
In undermining the process and potentially putting the pubic in danger they leave us with no choice but to take action – and we will continue to do so if operators carry out work without our permission.
In passing sentence, the court gave full credit to BT for guilty pleas entered at the earliest opportunity and accepted the mitigation submitted by the firm. However, it found aggravating factors in that the works had no advance warning signage to warn the public of the site’s presence and it was deficient in any pedestrian safety.
Due to the disregard for the NRSWA 1991 the court found that there was a high risk of danger to pedestrians and road users alike. The court also took into account that BT has previous convictions for similar offences committed both within Somerset and nationwide within the past 7 years.