Gas firm fined for delays to work in Shrewsbury town centre
Shropshire Council has identified gas contractor Cadent as failing to complete its work on time and has issued fixed penalty notices and a series of fines.
The utilities contractor has been involved in a number of projects in Shrewsbury town centre including Pride Hill and Town Walls which have overrun and attracted complaints.
A Street Works Members report to councillors states: "Cadent are currently the utility that we are having most issues with, both in terms of enforcement performance and operationally.
"As a result of this they were issued with a formal action plan on June 13, 2019, listing the areas in which significant improvement is required.
"Regular meetings are now being held to monitor progress against this action plan."
The New Roads and Street Works Act gives Highway Authorities the power to impose a charge for each day, or part of day that works continue, or ‘overrun’ beyond the agreed permit end date. Currently Cadent are the worst performing utility with 23 per cent of their granted permits incurring overruns.
Conditions are attached to permits to specify how the works must be carried out (for example; traffic management, hours of work, works methodology).
Fixed penalty notices (FPN) are incurred when any of the conditions specified on a permit are not complied with, or when works commence without a valid permit in place.
Recent figures show Cadent has incurred more than one FPN per permit, as 171 per cent of their granted permits have incurred FPNs.
Steve Brown, interim assistant director - infrastructure and communities at Shropshire Council said: “Breaches of highways permits can lead to extended road closures, often during peak traffic hours, cause severe disruption and generate a large number of complaints.
"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, and action will be taken where necessary.”
A spokesperson for Cadent said: “We always do our utmost to complete our work on time and to provide the best service to our customers, residents and road-users.
"This year has seen us facing both an exceptionally demanding workload in Shropshire and a number of complex projects.
"These include work to repair and replace ageing gas pipes in central Shrewsbury, working collaboratively with Shropshire Council.
“In addition, we have an extensive mains replacement programme running in the county this year.
"We are replacing 12km of iron gas mains, including upgrading up to 1200 ‘service pipes’, each requiring an individual excavation.
“We recognised that there was a need to improve our compliance with street works requirements so we entered into a voluntary improvement plan with our contractors, Balfour Beatty, and Shropshire Council.
"We were not issued with a formal action plan by Shropshire Council.
“We are also in discussions with Shropshire Council regarding their figures for overrunning projects as we feel these do not accurately reflect the situation.”