Utility Companies Fined For Overrunning Road Works

Thames Water, National Grid and EDF Energy top list of worst offenders

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Rogue utility companies are being held to account by Hammersmith & Fulham Council for unnecessarily prolonged or delayed road works. Last year utility companies were fined £220,000 for overrunning road works that equated to an incredible 1,008 days.

H&F Council is also challenging utility companies to keep the time they spend carrying out works down to a minimum by disputing proposals where it is felt companies are overstating the time it will take.

Councillor Nicholas Botterill, H&F Cabinet Member for Environment, said, "We are doing everything we can to make utility companies responsible for their actions, and to hold them to account for their shortcomings.

"Local residents suffer from a great deal of inconvenience when roads and pavements are dug up, and where we can identify road works overrunning as a result of a particular company's poor performance, we will act."

The charges that can be applied are set by the Department of Transport, and the level is dependant on the amount of traffic using the road and the likely duration of the works. On major routes the council can charge £2,000 a day on works that will take more than ten days to complete, and £500 a day on works that will take no more than three days. In less congested or residential areas these fees are reduced to £250 and £100 a day respectively.

In 2005/2006 the three worst offenders were Thames Water, National Grid and EDF Energy, with the same three companies topping the list in 2006/2007.

In June 2005, H&F Council was the first in London to serve legal Improvement Notices against a number of utility companies. They were introduced when the quality of repair work on highways failed to meet quality standards up to 40 per cent of the time. Since then the performance of most companies has improved, with some notable exceptions.

H&F Council has also brought prosecutions against utility companies when they have been found to put the public at risk through dangerous working practices. Last year there were ten successful prosecutions and two official cautions issued for dangerous working practices. Of those ten prosecutions, nine were against Thames Water. Last year Thames Water was summoned to a town hall summit to explain themselves to councillors, residents and amenity groups.

January 11, 2008