BT has been handed a £40,000 fine for failing to adequately guard their works and acting “recklessly” according to a judge.
The firm was fined £40,000 plus costs at Guildford Magistrates Court in September for failing to properly guard works being carried out in Wings Road, Farnham during January of this year. It followed a prosecution by Surrey County Council’s highways and transport team.
In determining the fine level, the Magistrate stated that BT had acted “recklessly” and that whilst no actual harm had befallen anyone, there was a “very high risk of harm” as a consequence of their actions.
This is the second time that the council has prosecuted BT. The firm was fined £30,000 in April 2019 for unsafe road repairs after cables were laid.
The current prosecution was brought against BT under Section 65 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA). BT pleaded guilty to the offence.
Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure said: “We always try to work in partnership with utility firms to ensure high safety standards and minimise disruption in the same way that we collaborate closely with contractors repairing roads.
“One of the ways we are doing this is by introducing a lane rental scheme which began in April this year. This gives utility companies and the county council’s highways teams who need to close a road or lane to complete roadworks, a financial incentive to carry works out during off peak hours or deliver the works in different ways to lessen the impact on traffic.
“Public safety is a key priority for us and in cases like this when it could be at risk, we will act on behalf of residents.”
BT have subsequently appealed the level of the fine imposed by the Magistrates Court and the Crown Court will now review whether the fine was appropriate. Their guilty plea remains.