Utility companies fined as 90% of road and pavement repairs fail standards checks in South Tyneside

Utility firms are not restoring pavements and roads well enough
Utility firms are not restoring pavements and roads well enough

Around 90% of road and pavement work done by utility companies in South Tyneside failed standards checks last year, councillors have been told.

The figure was revealed at Hebburn’s Community Area Forum when the council’s head of engineering services, Derek Smith, outlined future plans for roads in the borough.

When a utility company digs up and refills a road after planned works, South Tyneside Council extracts a core sample from the road to test the quality of the works.

The process aims to judge the strength of the road in relation to weight and the amount of traffic travelling over it, in line with national guidelines.

Out of the 200 tests that took place in 2017/18,  Mr Smith confirmed around 90 per cent – or 180 tests- failed with the council fining companies involved.

“The network has suffered in the past from trenches that have been put in again and collapsed,” he told the forum at Hebburn Library.

The figures came in response to a question from Coun John McCabe, who asked what work was being done to prevent utility companies damaging roads and failing to “return them to the way they were before.”

Each test currently costs South Tyneside Council £80 and in 2017/18 the cost to the council was £16,000.

Next year, the council will also double their efforts spending £32,000 on 400 core tests across the borough.

Based on a 80 to 90 per cent failure rate, all costs are expected to be recovered plus an additional £10,000 depending on the extent of fines, the council confirmed.

A spokeswoman added: “ We seek to encourage utility companies to reinstate the trenches to the right standards which will improve the highway network and should reduce maintenance costs.

“However, when this is not done to the required standard, we will issue a penalty in the interests of local taxpayers.”

Fines over the 2017/18 included both national utility providers and smaller contractors.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service