Shropshire Star

Severn Trent fined for badly managed roadworks after traffic was diverted onto road that was shut

Severn Trent Water has been fined more than £35,000 after admitting contractors it hired failed to manage road closures in Shropshire properly and exposed motorists to "significant potential for harm".

Shropshire Street, Market Drayton. Photo: Shropshire Council

The company was brought to court by Shropshire Council after inspectors visited several of its sites around the county and found failings in how the crews working there managed the sites.

In one instance, road crews had closed a road in Market Drayton for remedial works and sent diverted traffic onto another road in the town - a road which also happened to be closed for separate works.

An inspector's withering report on that incident said the problem "would have been obvious to any competent traffic management operative".

On the same street months later a crew had finished their work over a weekend then simply left the road closed well into a Monday morning, after it was agreed the work would be finished and the road open again in time for rush hour.

A council inspector was called out to investigate that closure after members of the public complained.

A lawyer for the company said his clients "deeply regretted" the breaches and accepted "the buck stopped" with Severn Trent, but said the crews working on the ground were contractor employees with all the relevant qualifications and accreditation.

Severn Trent Water, which has its headquarters in Coventry, admitted eight separate counts of failing to comply with traffic management rules, permits and safety regulations, relating to six sets of roadworks. They included schemes at Munslow, Whittington, Market Drayton and Shrewsbury, between March and July of last year.

Shropshire Council inspectors reported the breaches after visiting the sites and finding issues with how the company had closed roads or attempted to restrict traffic, prosecutor Mr Mike Davies told Telford Magistrates Court on Monday.

Concerns were raised at a scheme at the B4386 at Munslow on May 21 when an inspector found a crew about to break ground around a hydrant without any traffic management in place apart from a single traffic cone.

Severn Trent work at Aston Munslow. Photo: Shropshire Council
Severn Trent work at Aston Munslow. Photo: Shropshire Council

Then in mid April a Severn Trent scheme in Church Street, Whittington, was inspected and it was discovered work was taking place in neighbouring Top Street, where no permit applied.