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West Berkshire Council successfully claims costs in prosecution against Thames Water

Thames Water ordered to pay compensation for permit breaches

Posted by: Communications team on 26 September 2023 17:44
Market Street Offices

Thames Water Utilities Limited has been ordered to pay more than £10,000 for permit condition breaches following a successful prosecution by West Berkshire Council.

Utility companies needing to undertake work on the district's roads need to apply for a permit from West Berkshire Council. The permit scheme manages when, how and where street and road works take place across public highways. The scheme manages all works to reduce unnecessary disruption to road users.

Within the permit scheme, anyone carrying out works in the road will legally need to apply to West Berkshire Council for permission, in advance of the works.

The hearing, which took place on Friday 15 September at Reading Magistrates' Court, saw West Berkshire Council bring a prosecution against Thames Water Utilities Limited relating to a breach of a permit condition and undertaking works without the required permit, specifically under Regulations 19 and 20 of the Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007. Thames Water pleaded guilty to the two offences.

The first offence occurred in the centre of Pangbourne between 13 and 16 January 2023 when Thames Water carried out works without ensuring the traffic lights were manually controlled between 7am and 7pm. As a result, disruption was caused to local residents and other road users with congestion in the local area.

The second breach occurred on Reading Road in Pangbourne between 23 and 25 April 2023. While Thames Water had applied for the required permit, it had not been granted due to the site's proximity to a petrol station and a primary school, which required additional safety considerations. A modification to the permit was requested, specifying that works would only be allowed during the school's half-term break. Despite not having the required permit, Thames Water proceeded with excavation work overnight.

Thames Water expressed remorse for these incidents in mitigation after pleading guilty to both offences. In their considerations, the magistrates also factored in the impact on the Pangbourne community and the subsequent disruptions.

As a result of the legal proceedings, Thames Water Utilities Limited has been ordered to pay a total of £10,223.02. This sum covers a fine for each of the two offences, a victim surcharge, and costs to West Berkshire Council amounting to £3,293.02. Payment is required within 28 days.

Councillor Denise Gaines, Executive Member for Highways, Housing and Sustainable Travel at West Berkshire Council, said:

"The Council carefully manages roadworks - working to minimise disruption to residents while allowing utility companies to undertake necessary work. We have a well-established permit scheme to manage this but we will take action where utility companies flout these arrangements.

"Fortunately, cases such as this are rare and a last resort for us. Typically, we have a good relationship with local companies and work hard to accommodate their needs and to talk to them if issues arise before or during roadworks."

West Berkshire Council remains committed to upholding safety and ensuring that regulations are followed, protecting the interests of the local community and the integrity of our road networks.

Last modified: 26 September 2023 17:49

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