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Virgin Media fined for unsafe working practices causing danger to London’s road users

Transport for London (TfL) has again successfully defended the rights of all of London’s road users from unsafe working and unnecessary delays and disruption caused by utility companies. 

On 30 April 2014, Westminster Magistrate's Court fined Virgin Media £5,000 following a guilty plea to five separate offences on Croydon Road.

The gravity of the offences led the court to require Virgin Media to pay the maximum victim surcharge of £420 and TfL’s full legal costs. Virgin Media pleaded guilty to five offences committed on Croydon Road in the London Borough of Sutton in October 2013.

These included carrying out unsafe working practices, breaching two separate permit conditions, and two instances of failing to serve the necessary statutory notices.

It is the latest in a series of successful prosecutions by TfL as it works to reduce unnecessary roadworks to improve traffic flow and conditions for all London's road users.

In February of this year, Virgin Media caused further disruption to Londoners when they excavated the entire width of the A316 Chertsey Road to repair cables during peak hours, causing hours of severe delays to road users in the area.

TfL is currently prosecuting Virgin Media and its contractor McNicholas Construction Services Ltd for this incident.

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “We expect that utility companies ensure that any disruption caused by roadworks is minimised and the most stringent safety is upheld. Since the introduction of our London Permit Scheme in 2010 we have seen these delays reduce by over 50 per cent.

"We are pleased that the court has agreed that the unnecessary delays caused by utility companies’ slapdash behaviour are thoroughly intolerable. We are completely focused on cutting delays, and as such, will be continuing to prosecute persistent offenders who show wanton disregard for Londoners, as we have Virgin Media.”

During the sentencing, District Judge Goldspring cited the potential serious consequences of works without proper guarding near a primary school, and how Virgin Media were recently convicted of a similar offence.

The prosecution of Virgin Media is one of a number of ways TfL is improving conditions for all of London’s road users.

As of April 2013, all London boroughs have introduced the London Permit Scheme.

As a result firms undertaking work anywhere in London have to apply for a permit before they can begin digging up the roads.

London's Lane Rental Scheme, launched by the Mayor of London and TfL on 11 June 2012, is designed to reduce road users delays by encouraging utility companies to avoid digging up the busiest roads at peak traffic times.

Following the introduction of the scheme, more than 88 per cent of utility roadworks at traffic hotspots have avoided incurring a Lane Rental charge in Lane Rental locations.

Before the scheme was introduced, only around 30 per cent of utility roadworks at traffic hotspots avoided peak traffic times.

TfL is leading the way for works promoters, including utility companies, by avoiding incurring Lane Rental charges on 99 per cent of its works undertaken in Lane Rental locations.

Last year, TfL successfully prosecuted Thames Water for nine road works offences and Cable & Wireless for one offence of working in breach of permit conditions and causing significant road disruption as a result.

  • The permit scheme also enables TfL to monitor the number of roadworks taking place on its roads at any one time and ensure that they don't exceed the agreed limit.
  • In 2010 the cap was put in place to reduce the maximum number of works taking place by 20 per cent; the limit has since been further revised to reduce the maximum number of works by a further 10 per cent.
  • Traffic Police Community Support Officers (TPCSOs) are also used to clamp down on roadworks that are outside of their permit Londoners can report disruptive or badly managed roadworks, as well as road defects such as potholes and damaged footpaths, by visiting https://reportit.tfl.gov.uk.
  • Any enquiries received will be sent directly to the relevant Highway Authority (TfL or a London borough) responsible, ensuring that direct and fast action can be takenSince the beginning of the London Permit Scheme, TfL has issued Virgin Media a total of 316 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for various streetworks offences. In October 2013, Transport for London successfully prosecuted Thames Water for causing unnecessary disruption.  Link to PN
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