South Tyneside Council issues £16,000 in fines for overrunning roadworks

Council chiefs in South Tyneside handed out £16,000 in fines to firms for overrunning roadworks in two years, an investigation has revealed.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 11:41 am
Updated Thursday, 26th December 2019, 10:37 am
File picture of works taking place

Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed the financial penalties councils can impose for the late running works that cause gridlock on the region’s roads.

South Tyneside Council imposed 10 fines worth £5,250 in the last financial year, a sharp reduction from 2017/18 when 28 fines worth a total of £10,750 were given out.

A council spokesperson said: “The council manages street works in order to ensure the smooth running of traffic around the highway network. We impose overrun charges on utility companies where contractors do not complete their works within the agreed timescale.

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“The level of fines is in line with the road classification. This means larger fines are issued for disruption on major routes. Levels of fines imposed on utility companies can vary from year to year depending on the companies’ ability to get their projects completed on time.

“The fines contribute to the ongoing improvement of the highway network.”

The information requests, submitted to all North East councils, revealed Newcastle City Council imposed the most, with 38 fines totalling £232,000 in the last financial year alone.

In 2017/18 the city dished out 47 fines, but the overall total was much lower at £45,400.

Last financial year Northumbrian Water paid the largest individual fine – £174,000.

Works on Denton Road that went over by more than a month caused the water company to pick up the mammoth bill.

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said the works stated on 7 February and were due to finish on 20 February but dragged on until 29 March.

“We work closely with those undertaking works on our city’s highways with the aim of causing minimal disruption to those whose daily lives rely on a reliable network,” he added.

Northumberland County Council issued 30 fines worth a total of £36,550 in 2018/19 with the largest individual fine of £10,000 being given to Norhumbrian water for works on Choppington Lane in Bedlington, which overran by nine days. In the previous financial year the council issued 34 fines totalling £28,350.

Meanwhile, North Tyneside Council gave out 39 fines worth £51,350, last financial year Northumbrian Water received the largest individual fine of £9,000 for work on the Links, Whitley Bay that went over by seven days. In 2017/18 the authority issued 23 fines worth £12,100.

Sunderland Council issued 38 fines worth a total of £30,500 in the last financial year.

A Northumbrian Water spokesperson pointed out that the work on Denton road was part of a major project to improve the water supply in the West End.

“When carrying out work in an area, we always aim to complete our works as soon as we can and to the highest possible standard, while keeping people safe and minimising any disruption to the public,” they said.

“Unfortunately sometimes circumstances are outside of our control and this means there can be delays to us completing our work. Things like adverse weather conditions, ground composition or the layout of other underground utilities can all cause challenges when carrying out and completing street works.

“The work on Denton Road, Newcastle is part of a £2.2million investment to improve the water supply in the west end of Newcastle.”

“We’ve got an excellent working relationship with our contractors and the local councils. Our contractor’s essential work on Denton Road overran due to very unusual circumstances and the fine was in line with the normal procedures in place.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the council ensuring that any roadworks carried out in their area are done so safely, swiftly and with minimal disruption to all road users.”