Council success over ‘illegal’ Virgin Media works

Merton Council won its case against Virgin Media earlier this month after Wimbledon Magistrates Court found the company guilty of carrying out major works without council consent.

Virgin Media was ordered to pay a £7,600 fine plus £1,928 in costs and a £15 court charge after it failed to obtain a road closure order to allow the company to install cables under Newminster Road, Morden last year. Works included digging a large trench which blocked the entire width of the road. The company’s contractor T E Beach also neglected to display warning signs and adequate safety measures including barriers around the site.

Virgin Media pleaded guilty to four offences: two for failure to give adequate notice of their intention to carry out works, working in an unsafe manner and obstructing the highway.

This is the first prosecution in Merton under the New Roads and Street Works Act (NRSWA) 1991 and the Highways Act 1980. Since 12 May 2008, Virgin Media has already been subject to 18 fixed penalty notices for works undertaken without a valid notice.

Cabinet Member for planning and traffic management Councillor William Brierly said “We always work to put the needs of our residents first. We will not tolerate any breach of law, especially when it comes to putting people’s safety at risk. A procedure is in place which allows us to consult with the emergency services, residents and the authorities in our neighbouring borough Croydon. Due to Virgin Media’s failure to comply with the law we were unable to do this. Given that the works were on a road so near to an ambulance station and Malmesbury Primary School, their behaviour was particularly irresponsible. I hope this prosecution will serve as a warning to companies not to be so reckless in the future.”

Notes to editors:
· The fines Virgin Media were ordered to pay were:
o £2,000 fine for failure to give advanced notice of major works
o £1,500 fine for failure to give notice of the start date of the works
o £3,500 fine for failing to ensure the works were adequately guarded and signed.
o £600 fine for wilful obstruction of the Highway.
· Utilities Companies are legally required to submit notices to the Highway Authority prior to work being carried out with the exception of emergency work. A notice must be submitted within two hours of emergency works commencing. Any work requiring the closure of the road or suspension of parking will require a temporary traffic order under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act. Works requiring a Temporary Traffic Order are classified as major works. Whilst work is in progress the site must be maintained in a safe manner (NRSWA Section 65) for all highway users paying particular regard for people with a disability.

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Press Contact:
Leoni Munslow
Communications Assistant
London Borough of Merton
020 8545 4654