BT fined £25,000 over second unsafe London roadworks this year

Pre-Openreach split badness lands biz with five-figure fine

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BT has been fined £25,000 after being found guilty of carrying out unsafe roadworks in the UK capital, following a prosecution by Transport for London.

The offence was committed on March 1 at roadworks being carried out by BT on London's Streatham Hill, at the junction of Leigham Court Road.

"BT failed to properly sign and guard the working area, enabling pedestrians to walk dangerously close to heavy plant and machinery," said TfL in a press statement. The authority added that this is the second time in the last year that it has prosecuted BT over unsafe roadworks.

Openreach, BT's infrastructure division, separated from the telco arm of the business shortly after the offence was committed.

British Telecommunications plc pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to comply with directions regarding street works, contrary to the New Road and Street Works Act 1991, on October 4 at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

In their judgement, lay magistrates Marguerite Argles and Patricia Sales said: "It is clear that BT simply failed to comply with safety regulations and these failings could have caused serious harm to other road users. The aggravating feature in this matter, in my view, is the failure to properly close off the pedestrian crossing close to the work site, which resulted in pedestrians walking freely around heavy machinery. The regulations are there for a reason and must be complied with."

The court handed down a £25,000 fine, though the offence is punishable by an unlimited financial penalty. BT was also ordered to pay £2,764 in costs and a £150 victim surcharge, which goes into a fund for victims of crime.

An Openreach spokesperson said: "In the last year, we carried out a total of 376 engineering projects on the TfL network without incident. Unfortunately safeguards were not up to our usual high standards in these two cases and we fully accept the judge's decision. The safety of the public while carrying out this type of work is paramount, and we’ve put further safety measures in place to help prevent these types of incidents happening in future."

Over the last seven years, TfL said it has handed BT 991 fixed penalty notices (fines), netting it £67,270, and has prosecuted the telco 41 times for roadworks offences. 13 of those prosecutions have taken place within the last 18 months.

Other notable London roadworks offenders since 2010 include Thames Water, with 13 prosecutions; Virgin Media, with 11 prosecutions including those brought against its contractors; Vodafone, with nine; and Cable & Wireless with three. ®


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