Bosses at UK Power Networks, the company which maintains the electricity cables serving London and the South East, have been forced to apologise after a court fined the firm £17,000 for failing to ensure public safety while carrying out roadworks.
When Transport for London’s enforcement team visited works in Cheam, Lower Clapton and Masons Hill in Bromley they found “disorganised traffic management”, insufficient signage and, at one location, a lack of alternative routes for pedestrians which meant school children were forced into the carriageway during heavy traffic.
After hearing from TfL’s inspectors, Westminster Magistrates’ Court fined the firm £13,000 and ordered them to reimburse taxpayers for TfL’s prosecution costs of £4,637.
TfL says the fine “adds to UK Power Network’s history of poor performance, having previously been issued with a total of 1366 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) since 2010.” Almost a third of these were issued in the last year.
Garrett Emmerson, Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport at TfL, said: “The scale of the unsafe, unchecked and frankly appalling works carried out by UK Power Network in just three months is shocking.
“Ensuring that any roadworks are carried out in a safe manner is vital, especially in a major city such as London.
“I’m glad that the management of UK Power Network have already taken positive action to ensure there is no repeat of this type of behaviour. However, regardless of promises by senior management, we will continue to monitor and firmly prosecute anyone who tries their luck carrying out unsafe working practices on our roads.”
A UK Power Networks spokesperson said: “UK Power Networks has accepted the findings of Westminster Magistrates Court that in four very specific cases the company did not fulfil all the aspects of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, relating to signage and other issues.
“While we take this matter extremely seriously, it is important that it is put in to the context of the approximately 20,000 excavations we carry out in London every year.
“The company has in place a system of inspection and monitoring of such street works to ensure that they meet and exceed the appropriate legal standards.
“We apologise for the inconvenience that any customers experienced in these specific cases, but would like to assure customers that safety is always our number one priority.”