Telecommunications giant BT has been fined nearly £15,000 by magistrates after pedestrians were put at risk during roadworks in Somerset.

Somerset Council took the company to court regarding two allegations surrounding roadworks carried out on the B3090 Butts Hill in Frome in October 2022.

The case was heard at Taunton Magistrates Court on March 16th, with BT pleading guilty to both offences and magistrates fining the company and ordering it to pay the legal costs.

Somerset Council has welcomed the ruling, stating it will take a “zero-tolerance approach” to any roadworks which are improperly carried out.

The Butts provides a crucial connection between Frome town centre and the numerous commercial sites in the south-west of the town, including the Marston Trading Estate.

It will also serve as the main road to connect the town centre to the residents of the new Keyford Meadows development of 198 homes, which Curo is currently constructing on Sandys Hill Lane.

Under Section 65 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, companies carrying out roadworks have to install traffic management systems (e.g. temporary lights or stop/go boards) to ensure the public are not put at risk – especially those with disabilities.

On Friday, October 21, 2022, BT breached this requirement and was accordingly fined £8,000 by magistrates.

Additionally, the roadworks on Butts Hill were carried out without a valid or deemed permit – leading to a further fine of £500.

BT representatives pleaded guilty to both offences at the earliest opportunity, telling the court that they had issued guidance to their sub-contractors regarding street works and had increased employee training to prevent any repeat of these offences.

On top of these fines, the magistrates ordered BT to pay costs of £4,319.86 and a surcharge of £2,000 – bringing the total bill to £14,819.86.

Councillor Mike Rigby, portfolio holder for transport and digital, has welcomed the court’s decision.

He said: “As a local authority, we have a statutory duty to prevent the public from being exposed to unsafe and unlawful street works."

“It is crucial to ensure that companies adhere to relevant safety standards and provide information to the highways authority."

“We are now taking a zero-tolerance approach to these sort of unlawful activities on our network – the public expects nothing less – and we hope that this, together with the recent fines totalling £62,000 levied against Virgin Media for similar offences in Bridgwater, send a powerful message to contractors that they must obey the laws on street works at all times.”

Daniel Mumby