County council takes legal action against BT Openreach for ‘avoidable disruption’ on roads

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HAMPSHIRE County Council has successfully taken legal action against BT Openreach for causing what it called ‘avoidable disruption’ on roads.

The telecommunications company pleaded guilty and was fined for two failures to comply with orders from the council about what times of day to use temporary traffic lights during installation works.

The council cannot refuse works, but does have legal powers to request specific timing to reduce traffic congestion.

Councillor Rob Humby, the council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: ‘We work very hard with utility companies and works contractors to co-ordinate works so that essential service supplies are provided and the roads are maintained, while at the same time making sure everyone else can go about their day to day business.

‘It’s a difficult balancing act. We know how frustrating it can be to face delays on the roads, and we also know how important it is to have reliable water, telephone, energy and broadband.

‘However, we do have a duty to minimise disruption for residents and drivers, and I very much hope contractors recognise that when they repeatedly fail to stick to agreements and unnecessarily disrupt the public, we will take action.’

Southampton Magistrates Court found BT Openreach guilty of failure to comply with the council’s request to use traffic lights during off-peak times only for works carried out in Twyford in December 2016, and a request to use traffic lights only at night for works in Bishopstoke in February this year.

These failures to comply resulted in unnecessary disruption to the travelling public.