The city councils of Bath and Northeast Somerset fined utility companies £80,000 for over-running on their alloted time to carry out roadworks over the last three years.
The councils handed out 31 seperate fines over a period of almost 3 years, beginning in January 2013 and finishing in November 2015, intending to clean up the acts of utilities firms who had run over on their time allowances without an approrpiate extension from the councils. The overrunning works made a large number of roads impassable for far longer than the city authorities had budgeted or planned, including on main commuting lines through Bath last year. As a result, local commerce and business was adversely affected, as well as the happiness of the citizens, who had to put up with clogged roadways and noisy roadworks for long periods of time.
Despite the authorities issuing the seemingly enormous number of fines, Councillor Anthony Clarke, cabinet member for transport, said that the number of fines issued was “relatively low” given that the council coordinates approximately 8,000 roadworks projects every year. Considering that the fines were issued in every case where a company overran on their build time without an extension, the toll is extraordinarily low for the total number of projects undertaken.
Councilman Clark says the fines show that the authorities will “come down hard” on companies who take too long over finishing up their works.
Mr Clarke said on Sunday “We recognise the difficulties that roadworks can cause for residents and as a council we do our utmost to reduce the amount of disruption to both locals and visitors. Utility companies have a legal right to be able undertake necessary roadworks and we recognise that utility works need to be carried out to ensure local infrastructure is properly maintained.
However, we also need to ensure that such works are completed as swiftly as possible. As part of this, we take the robust approach to overrunning utilities works, including the use of fines where necessary.”
If a utility company discovers unexpected complications over the course of the works, and it is too late to apply for an extension, they may have just cause to overrun without incurring a fine, but if the delay is due to short-staffing or logistical failures on the company’s part, the fines will stand.