Tue, 14 May 2019
UTILITY company SSE has been fined after roadworks caused traffic chaos in Newbury.
Huge jams and tailbacks led to motorists being trapped for up to two hours because of temporary lights by the junction of Park Way and London Road on January 19.
Some drivers parked their vehicles and walked or took trains to their destination rather than sit in the congestion. Bus services were also severely disrupted.
A permit for the works, issued by West Berkshire Council, required SSE to manually control and monitor a set of three-way traffic lights in order to manage traffic flow.
But SSE failed to do so, leading the council to prosecute the company for breach of a condition of a permit contrary to the Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations.
The company was fined £1,666.67 after it pleaded guilty at Reading Magistrates' Court on Friday, May 10.
SSE was also ordered to pay costs of £2,218.50 and a surcharge of £166.
West Berkshire Council’s head of transport and countryside, Jon Winstanley, said: “SSE caused significant disruption on Newbury’s roads and stopped our residents being able to go about their weekend activities.
“Work permits help us to minimise disruption to local roads. Before roadworks can start utility companies need to apply for permission to do the work. We review each application very carefully to understand the impact it will have and can set conditions to reduce that impact.
"On this occasion we set conditions which were not met and the result was disruption for Newbury residents and businesses.
“Our highways officers acted quickly on the day to ensure there was not a repeat of the issue the following day. The work permit, which is required for utility works, was also revoked.
"Given the scale of the disruption caused we felt it necessary to prosecute SSE for failing to comply with conditions of their permit to show how seriously we view breaches to the conditions we set. I am pleased they admitted the offence.”
A spokesperson for SSE said: “Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) makes every effort to minimise the disruption caused to residents and businesses during the course of all its essential works, but there can be very rare occasions when things don’t always go to plan.
“In this instance, when the use of road traffic management systems resulted in a higher than normal disruption to road users in the affected area, SSEN took immediate action to ensure these issues were resolved at the earliest opportunity.
“SSEN will continue to work and cooperate with West Berkshire Council with regards to managing and coordinating works on their network.”