Utilities company ordered to pay £18,000 over safety breaches outside Shropshire primary school
A utilities company has been ordered to pay more than £18,000 after being prosecuted by Shropshire Council for safety breaches.
Wales & West Utilities Limited admitted to six breaches and failures to maintain and operate a traffic management system when they appeared at Telford Magistrates Court on Monday.
The utilities company was prosecuted for traffic management offences committed in Whittington in June 2023 and August 2023.
The company had applied for a major works permit for works on Station Road, Whittington, Oswestry, between June 12 and July 21, and further works on or about August 24.
The works were on a major A road and outside a primary school, Shropshire Council said, and after starting the works the council raised concerns that the works were carried out in a way that posed a significant safety risk to the public.
A highways inspector visited the site on June 16 and found the permanent pedestrian crossing had been switched off without council authorisation, and temporary traffic lights had been set up with a temporary pedestrian crossing.
However, due to the bus stop, shop and post office, there was still a high volume of uncontrolled traffic movements taking place, which was deemed as dangerous, in particular for the pedestrians using the crossing.
There was also an excavation on Castle Street that did not have a permit in place.
Repeat site visits were made in June to follow up on the issues raised, but the concerns over the uncontrolled traffic movements and pedestrians remained, and further breaches were identified, including a failure to deploy a traffic marshal to assist pedestrians, despite the firm agreeing to do so.
In August 2023 – during work to reset some kerbs – an inspector found that that there were no operatives on site and the temporary traffic lights were not being manually controlled as specified under a permit condition.
In addition, the site information board present on site was inadequate, not in the correct format, was facing live traffic and was illegible.
Telford Magistrates fined the company £12,068, and ordered it to pay costs of £4,000 and a victims surcharge of £2,000 – a total of £18,068.
Chris Schofield, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for planning and regulatory services, said: “Shropshire Council is responsible for regulating works taking place on our network of roads, and any avoidable breaches that disrupt the flow of traffic and safety of the network are taken extremely seriously, as this prosecution shows.
“The location of the works directly outside a primary school, and on a busy A road, exacerbated an already non-compliant site to the point where there were serious concerns that an accident could have occurred.
"It is clear that Wales & West should have carried out more vigilant prior planning and risk assessment, which would have meant that the issues would have been identified beforehand and been better catered for.
“Furthermore, the repeated failure to adhere to permit conditions, along with working without a permit on an adjacent street, further highlights the council’s concerns regarding the company’s ability to plan and carry out their works appropriately.”